Sunday Morning Sermons

The Sovereignty of God    Jos Kelly May 19th, 2024

COLOSSIANS 1:24 – 2:5

 ‘When you go through a trial, the sovereignty of God is the pillow on which you lay your head’   CH Spurgeon

24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. 

This opening statement sets the scene for this whole passage. Paul, afflicted but happy, understanding he wasn’t just the victim of a bad roll of the dice of fate. Happy because he understood he was right where God wanted him. It was God that put him there.

Paul was under Roman house arrest when he was writing this. Of all the imprisonments Paul suffered, this would probably have been the least worst. Some were horrific underground dungeons but comparatively, this was not so bad. But he was still confined and totally reliant on other Christians to provision him, limited and unable to do what his human nature longed to do. Separated from those he loved and unable to get out and preach the gospel but, and it’s a big BUT, he knew he wasn’t there by accident. He really wanted to visit Colossae in person and he tells Philemon this in his letter to him. But he knew he was in prison because that was God’s will. Do you ever think ‘wouldn’t the bible have been so much better if Paul hadn’t kept getting thrown in prison’? If only he didn’t have such a big mouth, he could have had a nice country retreat to focus on his writing in comfort and oh what a Bible we’d have then!’? No, we never do. We know that it was all part of God’s masterplan and so did Paul. He wasn’t praying to God, ‘get me out of here’ with God replying, ‘I’m going as fast as I can, give me a chance.’ He understood the sovereignty of God, that it was God’s will that he was there and his reaction was ‘I am glad’. How much can we learn from this? Are we glad when things aren’t going as we’d like? When we suffer, when we’re afflicted, when we’re struggling in life and crying out to God to change our circumstances? There are some tough verses in scripture but if we take time to truly absorb them, life, our life, gets much easier to understand. Especially the tough times – because it’s funny how we only question what God’s doing in the tough times, we never pray ‘God change my circumstances’ when everything is going swimmingly do we?!

We don’t think for a second that Paul’s afflictions were anything other than God’s plan and yet we find it harder to accept when it’s us! Paul, flogged and beaten so often he lost count, jailed repeatedly = no problem, it was god’s plan. Us, our car breaks down, we get a pain in our knee, money gets tight or the family create issues = God must be angry with me or he’s let go of the steering wheel and my life is falling apart.

Time to take you back to your Sunday School days, for a quick scripture test: Slide

Proverbs 3:11: My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline,  and don’t be upset when he corrects you. 12For the Lord corrects those he (dislikes) loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he (he’s disappointed) delights.

Trusting God is about accepting his leading, his leadership. Whether, like Paul, it’s a period of frustrating confinement and apparent incapacity or whether we’re being taken somewhere we wish we weren’t.


Proverbs 16:9  A man’s heart plans his way,But the Lord directs his steps.

Psalm 142:3  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.


Mary Slessor

Mary Slessor was a well-known missionary in the nineteenth century.

Born in Scotland in 1848, before she was even eleven, she was working in a cloth mill in Dundee, preparing jute and flax for weavers. At home, her father was a violent alcoholic; her mother would have to send Mary out into the street so that he couldn’t beat her, even on winter nights. Outside wasn’t much better and Mary regularly had to fend off drunks and thieves and worse.

Wanting to improve her condition, she attended evening classes. She was often so tired after a long day of work at the mill, her concentration would slip and the teacher punished her by making her stand beside her desk.

Mary became a Christian after a woman held her hand near a blazing fire and warned her of the fire of hell. She started Bible classes for children whose lives were as harsh as her own. She took groups into the countryside for picnics and played with them, raising the eyebrows of “proper” Christians.

Back in town, gangs hindered her Christian work. They’d throw mud at Mary and tried to intimidate her in other ways but she won their respect when their leader whirled a sharpened lead weight on a string closer and closer to her face until it grazed her forehead. Praying for courage, Mary refused to duck or to run. The ringleader was so impressed he made his whole gang attend her meetings and some were converted. “What is courage, but faith conquering fear?” she recounted later. Mary would need plenty of courage in the years to come.

Mary’s church read missionary letters from the pulpit. They fascinated the Slessors. Mary’s oldest brother made up his mind to become a missionary, but died before he could join the mission. Mary determined to take his place and applied to the mission board. Impressed by her hard work for Jesus in Dundee the board said yes. And so it came about that in 1876 aged 27 she sailed for Africa. Posted to a part of Nigeria where cannibal tribes sacrificed humans to their idols.

Mary learned Efik, the main language of the region. She risked her life again and again to rescue slaves, women, and children from death. The tribes used something called “trial by ordeal” in which they forced an accused person to eat poisonous beans or poured boiling oil on them. If they died or received burns, they were declared guilty. Mary fought against this evil. Women and children were especially vulnerable, with women often blamed if their husbands died and unwanted children (particularly twins) regularly abandoned in the jungle.  Mary rescued and adopted many such children. She also campaigned for an end to the custom of sacrificing dozens of slaves when a chief died.

In one instance that shows Mary’s courage, she overcame men from the Egbo who dressed in terrifying masks to intimidate the rest of their tribe. Mary chased a group of them and showed how weak they really were by catching and ripping off one man’s mask.

It took time but Mary taught the Nigerians in her area that lives have value. Her strength was trust in God. “God and one are always a majority,” she declared.

O God, Release me!

In January 1915, Mary collapsed after a church service in Nigeria. A doctor was able to resuscitate her, but she found it difficult to talk and was in great pain. Her last words were a prayer in the Efik language: She didn’t pray for healing “O Abasi, sana mi yok.” (O God, release me!) and died the next day. She is remembered in Nigeria as the “Mother of all the peoples.”

Now here’s the key: Mary attributed her harsh upbringing to making her into a person who could serve God in a harsh foreign environment. She didn’t resent God for the tough times in her life but praised him; like Paul did, and like we should learn to.

Is our God a big God or a small God? If we see trials, hardships, difficulties, setbacks in our life as something we need to get God’s attention on, thinking if we pray hard enough, he’ll realise what’s going on and pull us out, or through, then our God is too small. If on the other hand we understand from scripture that whatever is happening to us is ordained by God and has a purpose that ultimately is both for our good, and part of God’s overall plan, then we’re starting to understand the nature of the God of the bible. A very big God in complete control - over everything.

Slide Proverbs 16:4  The Lord has made everything for his own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of destruction.

That is a verse you can really chew on!

Slide Verse 24 continues: I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body – Some versions read: filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. We could spend an entire service discussing just this but needless to say it doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t complete the work of salvation on the cross as is sometimes inferred, especially in catholic doctrine. Whenever we look at a verse that perplexes us, we need to consider the other 31,102 verses pressing down on it, Scripture interprets scripture. This means that Paul was carrying on Jesus' mission by spreading the gospel message around the world, sharing the good news about Jesus with others.

Slide 25God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. 

26This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

Proclaiming his entire message? But what about all the modern prophets and Apostles to whom God is always revealing new divine truths? Those who claim Jesus comes to meet them in person on a regular basis? There are thousands and thousands of ‘Christian’ leaders who teach a different gospel than the one here in the bible. They are superb preachers; engaging, personable, uplifting, but they deceive: Jesus said wolves in sheep’s clothing would come to lead his flock astray. In fact, when the bible warns us against dangers to the church it’s usually not warning against dangers from outside but inside the church. False teachers like Ellen G White, Joseph E Smith or the Watchtower organisation adding their own ‘Holy Scriptures’ to go with God’s word and distort it. We’d say they’re easy to spot but there are others who are more subtle and say what they know people want to hear.

Slide 2 Tim 4: 3For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

The Bible as we have it is the complete word of God. It’s everything God decided to reveal to humanity and it contains all the answers we need. There are no missing gospels, the apocrypha is not divinely inspired and we mustn’t be tempted to search elsewhere for inspired texts. We are privileged beyond belief to live in a time and a place when the whole message of God’s glorious plan is revealed to us. But we must be careful to test anything and everything we’re told. Be  careful to view the world through the lens of scripture and don’t fall into the trap of viewing scripture through the lens of the world; One side say Noah’s flood can’t be historic because of what all the secular scientists claim, the other side says if the bible is true, we’d expect to find billions of dead things all over the world, encased in sedimentary rock laid down by water –  exactly what we do find.

Slide 26This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 

Isn’t it breathtaking to fully appreciate the depth of this? A message God kept secret but is now revealed that the riches and glory of Christ is for us and that Christ lives in us? Peter expands upon it:

Slide 1 Peter 1: 10This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

Slide  27For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

The dictionary defines assurance as: promise or pledge; guarantee; surety, full confidence; freedom from doubt; certainty:

We have Gods promise, and God cannot lie, if we believe him we can have complete confidence, freedom from any doubt that we will share God’s glory. Ask any other religion, Catholic, JW, Mormon, Moslem, they have no assurance. These others are striving by their own efforts, hoping they’ll eventually make the grade.

This leads us neatly into what Paul wants us to understand in the next part of this passage. It begins in verse 28 with Slide SO…..

A big SO.  The case has been presented, now what is the logical progression, the follow on? The verses become fairly self explanatory.

Slide …..28So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect1:28 Or mature. in their relationship to Christ. 29That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

We tell others about Christ. If we have understood the message thus far, that should be the natural response.  Spreading the message to those God has put us amongst.  Many missionary organisations start the interview for prospective candidates by asking them how much they spread the word to the people around them where they currently live and work. That’s because people sometimes believe it’d be easier to share the gospel with foreign natives than with their neighbours, friends and colleagues. But these missionary societies look for people who understand the great commission

….. wherever God has put them. There’s many a missionary living in primitive conditions half a world away from family and friends who will tell you in reality it’s a lot easier back home! We are where God has put us. Serve him there. Every Christian says in their head – YEAH BUT! It’s different for me!

Paul says he’s struggling for them – so hard – yet he’s under house arrest. How can he be struggling? Trying to escape? No, commentators say he’s talking about struggling in prayer. The battle every Christian struggles with. Prayer is hard and the evil one will do anything to stop us because he knows that it’s when a Christian gets on his knees (even metaphorically) that he becomes most dangerous. How easy do we find it to put off our well-intended planned time of prayer? Or become distracted? Or start but then stop because something needs doing. If you’re like that then join the ranks of almost all Christians. But Paul would struggle in prayer too. He did it though, that much is very clear.


“Satan trembles when he sees the weakest Christian on his knees.”
– William Cowper

Slide How do we reach those God has put us amongst?

Slide How about a few signs in the garden? ????

Slide If you don’t want to do the cold call evangelism bit with your neighbours – like almost every Christian – there is another way.

  • Choose a neighbour, write their name on a card, and
  • pray for them specifically every day.
  • Try and get to know them,
  • help them in small ways and
  • find a way to gently let them know you go to church
  • but PRAY and let the Lord do the rest.  Just be ready to answer questions – as Peter said we should.
  • Slide

I fully expect that when we get to glory, we’ll find every single person in here is a result of another Christian’s faithful prayers.

What is prayer? It’s talking to God like respectful children talk to their beloved fathers. Let me share a poem about prayer.

The Prayer of Cyrus Brown. See Page 15

Quick recap: Paul understands that his suffering has a purpose, and he’s charged with taking the now fully revealed and fully complete, gospel of Christ Jesus to the non-Jewish world. A message that had been obscured until this point in history. He explains that the responsibility of every believer is to warn others and teach others and that he works hard, toiling in prayer, relying on the mighty power of Christ that is within him. We have that same power!

But now he delivers an exhortation and a warning, his tone becomes more intimate: He wants believers to be bound together by love, well taught with a good understanding of scripture. The bible tells us of the responsibility church leaders have to teach sound doctrine in their church but there’s no absolution from our individual responsibility to study the word of God in private. Click

2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

15Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (laying out) the word of truth.

In the Old Testament times, every new king of Israel was required to copy out the whole of the scripture as they had it at that time. It was both so they would become intimately familiar with it and so that they would have their own personal copy as copies were rare and valuable.

When we get to heaven and God asks: What did you think of my book? How will we answer? ‘Well, I don’t think I read it all but the bits I did read were jolly good! I definitely read the second half, well most of it, I think!’

Study, learn and commit to memory – write it on your heart – it’s an instruction in scripture. It’s vital in order to grow spiritually. ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’. If the bible was banned tomorrow, how much of it would we be able to recall to mind to meditate upon, to be able to nourish on?


1I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. 2I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. 3In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Paul references again his struggle on others’ behalf. The word in Greek is agónizomai: to contend for a prize, struggle. I am struggling, striving (as in an athletic contest or warfare); I contend, as with an adversary.– the root from where we get the word agony. One study bible says it is to be understood as implying earnest care and solicitude, accompanied, undoubtedly, with the most fervent application to the throne of grace in their behalf. He agonized with God, and his agony was for them. Paul then explains why he wants them (us)  understanding scripture, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge as he states:

Slide 4I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. 5For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

It’s so they (and we) won’t be deceived. In Colossae at the time there were strong movements, mystery movements in the church, telling believers that there was more, that there was additional, esoteric knowledge, available to those who joined their sub groups – early cults really. Some Christians in Colossae had started to revere the Archangel Michael. Scripture plus or scripture minus, that’s what a cult is. It’s not confined to cults though. There are many denominations that have specific teachings or practices they state make them better than other denominations or the ‘real’ church. Closed Brethren segregating, Pentecostal churches teaching you must speak in tongues to go to heaven! Unitarians denying the trinity, Methodists, Quakers, some Baptists, the list is extensive. All depart from scripture to a lesser or greater degree. We’re seeing a literal stampede of denominations rejecting the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. The Catholics venerate dead people, call them saints, and pray to them. They teach that their traditions hold equal authority to scripture! Turn on the TV and watch one of the religious channels and you’ll find it’s endemic with dangerous teaching but people get taken in because they don’t know what the Bible really does teach,…

Scripture is very clear that as mankind moves closer to the end times deception will get worse. Jesus warned us as well as Paul.

Slide Matt 24:24 'false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. '

Satan is called the great deceiver and this activity will increase but we’re also told that a world that increasingly turns it’s back on God will be given over to deception. Eventually, only the elect will see what’s happening but Jesus’s warning is to us to make sure we don’t get taken in by deception. Some of the arguments we’ll be presented with will be strong and well crafted. If they contradict scripture though, even one word, they are false. Rat killer is 99.5% good grain with only 0.005% poison. Rats wouldn’t go near it otherwise, they’re not stupid. But they eat the good grain and miss that deadly bit and then it’s too late. That’s what false teaching is like. Much of it seems great but it leads astray. When banks train staff to spot counterfeit money they don’t show them forgeries. They get them so familiar with the feel, the weight, the characteristics of the real thing that a fake is spotted instantly. That’s how we should be with the word of God.

Slide  So what can we take away from these 11 verses ? There’s six points that stand out:

  1. God is a big God, He’s in control of everything – every molecule in the furthest reaches of space, every atom in your body and also every aspect of your life. Although you might not understand why you’re going through things, be glad, because God knows. Every tough period has a purpose and an end date. God will walk through the fire with you and bring you out the other side and it will all be for a greater purpose preordained by Him before the world even existed.

Click  Isaiah 43: 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. 

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. 3For I am the Lord your God,

Click Eph 2: 10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. When your work is finished you retire. But you don’t retire in the work place. Can you imagine if you retired from your job but kept going back into the office every morning? No and those Christians who have retired couldn’t be here today! And they wouldn’t want to be!  

  1. Click This bible we have is complete. It’s the entire revealed word of God. There’s nothing more he wants us to know. If anyone claims to add to it, they are false prophets. 100% no debate. Don’t entertain them for a   second.

Click Don’t mess about being polite: 2 John 1:10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. - Repeat

  1. Click Warn the lost and teach the less mature. If you’re not sharing your faith with anyone at the moment, follow those steps we outlined earlier. We are where we are by God’s design. Where we live, work, associate, everyone around us. We all get uncomfortable when it’s suggested we should witness more. But as we saw, it doesn’t need to be difficult; you don’t need to preach at anyone. There are brilliant tracts you can give out when the opportunity arises, or an invite to an event, just something. Can you help less mature Christian’s grow in their faith?
  2. Click Be bound to your fellow Christians in love. Get used to them now, you’re going to spend eternity with them! But show patience, gentleness, and love. None of us are perfect – yet. If you find another Christian difficult to get along with, remember God put you together so what are you going to learn? How do rocks get polished?
  3. Click Be assured. God has got you. Assurance. It’s God’s solid gold guarantee that never expires.
  4. Click Don’t be deceived. The surest way not to be deceived is to check everything against the word of God and to spend time immersed in it.

Let me share a quote from JC Ryle

Slide “The Lord Jesus makes no mistakes in managing His friends’ affairs.

He orders all their concerns with perfect wisdom: all things happen to them at the right time, and in the right way.

He gives them as much of sickness and as much of health, as much of poverty and as much of riches, as much of sorrow and as much of joy, as He sees their souls require.

He leads them by the right way to bring them to the city of habitation… He mixes their bitterest cups like a wise physician, and takes care that they have not a drop too little or too much.

His people often misunderstand his dealings; they are silly enough to fancy their course of life might have been better ordered: but in the resurrection-day they will thank God that not their will, but Christ’s was done.”   (J.C. Ryle)

Wherever you are in your life, whatever is going on, whatever you’re facing, whatever your challenges: God is on His throne and he never ever ever makes mistakes. Paul was in a situation none of us would envy but he was glad. Why? Because he knew it was God’s perfect plan.

Slide      Lamentations 3: 21-26



12/05/2024  Edington Chapel. Preacher  E.P

Colossians 1:15-23

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

V.15-20 – Christ’s pre-eminence

v. 15 – Christ, the image of God

Christ is the image of God, the creator, whom no one has seen.

In the OT nobody had seen what God was like, apart from glimpses of his presence – Jesus is God made man – Immanuel.

Firstborn of all creation – not created, but creator. Metaphor which emphasises his primacy over everything created.

The wonder of the infinite God being made a human to relate to his creation personally.

v. 16 – Christ, the creator of everything

Everything was created through him and for him.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1-3)

God created everything for his glory.

6 I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

It pleased God to magnify his glory through the redemption of rebellious creatures, by conquering them back through his love.

v. 17 – Christ, the one who holds everything together

Before anything existed, there was Christ. After everything was created through Christ and for Christ, Christ is the one who holds everything together.

Progress of science through the centuries…

James Web telescope – 1 million miles away from the Earth, orbits the Sun (unlike the Hubble which orbits the earth), launched on 25/12/2021, arrived in its orbit 1 month later 24/01/2022.

The farthest thing this telescope has seen was named Earendel. It’s a start twice as hot as the sun and is about 28 billion light-years away from Earth.

Speed of light: 300,000 km/s

Distance: 8.4 quadrillion km (8.4^1015)


  • Earendel – 28b light years away
  • Earth – 7,917mi diameter, 8.1b people, 1037mph spin speed (1.5 Mach 1), in 365 days it completes a full orbit at the speed of 67,000 mph
  • Milky way – 100,000 light years diameter, 100b stars, about 3 trillion planets
  • Cassiopea – 11,000 light years away
  • NGC 628 galaxy – 32m light years away
  • NGC 1433 galaxy – 46m light years away
  • NGC 1672 galaxy – 60m light years away


Cells in human body: 36 trillion

70% mass is water, the rest is inorganic ions, and organic molecules (containing carbon)

Protein molecules in a cell: 42 million

Where does the energy in the universe comes from. Atheists obstinately refuse to believe in a higher intelligence that isn’t inherent to the human realm.

The Bible is not an encyclopedia. Is the universe billions of years old? Maybe, if we measure it by natural processes.

Example of Jesus turning water into wine: supernatural. By normal processes, that wine would have been several years old.

God is the creator and holder of the universe.

If he holds the universe together, he can hold you. Do you trust him?


v. 18 – Christ, the head of the church

Church, described as a body with Christ being the head.

He is the true leader. He is the true shepherd.

Human leaders are fallible, he isn’t.

v. 18 – Christ, the first one to rise from the dead to live forever

Central part of Christianity. Our Lord rose from the dead and promised to those who follow him eternal life.

Christ is preeminent in everything.

v. 19 – Christ, the fullness of God

Fully God, fully man – mystery of the trinity. Immanuel.

v. 20 – Christ, the reconciler

Not talking about universal pardon, but rather about Christ being the centre of God’s mercy being extended to all those who through Christ are reconciled with him.

God made peace through Jesus’ blood.

He defeated enmity by dying for his enemies, triumphing on the cross.

God’s glory is best revealed in the gruesome death of his son.

v. 21-23 – Christians’ position towards God

v. 21-22 – Christians, formerly alienated from God

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,

To the Ephesians he wrote:

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world (Eph 2:1-2a)

Once alienated, now reconciled – once dead, now brought to life.

Miracle of conversion. The changing of the heart of a natural person to become spiritual.

That reconciliation is not only ceremonial but moral, it’s an alignment of values and ethic.

Christ’s death didn’t just buy our justification, but our sanctification as well, as his Holy Spirit operates in our lives to keep us in line and make us grow in him.

in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him (22b)

Our justice before God comes through justification by God’s grace through Jesus, not through our works. However, being reconciled with God is the starting point of a new life (new birth) with a new heart.

v. 23 – Christians’ condition for being reconciled with God

23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Reconciliation with God not merely ceremonial.

Continuing in the faith is mandatory.

Many start in the faith and don’t continue. (parable of the sower – Mat 13, Mark 4, Luke 8), (parable of the house built on sand – Mat 7:24, Luke 6: 47)

Faith is known by its fruits.

Praise God, continuing in the faith isn’t something that we do by ourselves, through our resolve.

It’s something that we accomplish by God’s grace, through the power that moves in us by his Spirit.

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)


Sunday 12th November 2023. Speaker: Deryck Jones

 Living in Faith

Page 1 of 6 LIVING IN FAITH COME NOW – WHAT YOU SAY AND WHAT YOU HAVE. James 4:13 - 5:6 Jas 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. Jas 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.


James seems to switch between addressing Believers and non believers. • A previous passage [3:1-18] was addressed to ‘my brothers’ and ‘we’ [3:1], who we can identify as believers. • After our passage for today, James returns to addressing his ‘Brothers’ [5:7]. Continuing with ‘my brothers’ again in [5:12], who we can identify as believers. This passage of James 4:13 – 5:6 is directed at ‘you’, this ‘you’ refers to those with whom he does not personally identify. • The identity of ‘you’ in this passage are non believers or worldly people who are among Christians. James develops contrasts and consequences of following the world and of following the Lord. There are two sections in the passage. Both begin with ‘Come now’. • 4:13-17:- Come Now – What You Say. ◦ What you say reflects what you think or believe – Faith. • 5:1-6:- Come Now – What You Have. ◦ What you have is the consequence from what you have done – Works. God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out. Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who are worldly.

This first set of verses is about faith.

Come Now – What You Say [4:13-17]. This passage starts with an invitation to come. This is to those who follow the world. • By inviting them to come, suggests that they are not truly a part of those who belong to the Lord. There are 2 points James is making when he addresses these who are far from the Lord. • They form a contrast with what is and what ought to be. ◦ The first point has to do with ‘you who say’ in verse 13. ◦ The second point has to do with ‘you ought to say’ in verse 15. You Who Say. What we say is an indication of what we think – our faith. Do our objectives reflect a friendship with the world or with the Lord? Making Plans. We are all going through a process like being on a journey. • We live in a changing world and in our thoughts and plans try to manage our future. ◦ What circumstances will remain the same and what will change, and when will they change? • We make our plans based on what we believe will bring reward and contentment. ◦ Do we base our plans on a friendship with the world? ◦ Or are we planning on the basis of our relationship with God? D I Jones Living in Faith Page 2 of 6 God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out. Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who do not believe in Jesus.

You Who Say ‘We Will’. [4:13 – 14]. The worldly merchant or trader makes himself the authority for his work. • He is on the go. Making plans about travel, about schedules, about trade relationships. Jas 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. It is good to make provision for daily needs, but there is more to take into account when we make our plans. • If we can make plans for worldly needs then we should also know to make plans for eternal needs. Jesus told a parable that illustrates this point. • About a rich man who had so much he needed to make bigger barns. Luke 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops? 18 And he said, I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. 20 But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. The point is not that we should not be industrious, but that in our industry we should be rich towards God – from whom all this ultimately comes. • Note that the point brought up in this parable is that the rich man dies and ends up with nothing. ◦ His planning was based on ‘I will’ and it came to nothing because of his worldliness and disregard / ignorance toward God. There is more to life than than just this world. • Jesus Christ, God, is beyond this worldly existence, and He calls us to be with Him. There needs to be an awareness of the greater picture of what life is about and where life is leading us. Psalms 78:39 He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. 1Pet 1:24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. Before all of us there lies the sureness of death. But beyond death there is more. • Just as we prepare for our daily needs, we also should prepare for the eventuality of death. God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out. Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who do not believe in Jesus.

You Ought To Say, ‘If The Lord Wills’ [4:15 – 16]. Here is an alternative to how we make plans for our future. • Instead of making our decisions based on worldly values, we should defer to the Lord and make our plans in keeping with the will of God. Jas 4:15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Instead of trying to make God bless our desires and obey our will, we should submit to the will of the Lord who knows about us and our future, and cares for our welfare. • An example of the Lord’s response to those who think that their will is also the Lord’s will. Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? 23 And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. Our arrogance and boasting in the face of Jesus is seen when we make our plans without regard to what is in keeping with the purposes of God. • If we come to God and ask Him to bless what we want, expecting Him to be some kind of servant to do our bidding, this is evil. • Our priority should be to ask what God wants from us, and then be obedient in submission to His will. We should say ‘If the Lord wills’. D I Jones Living in Faith Page 3 of 6 God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out. Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who do not believe in Jesus.

Doing The Right Thing [4:17] Sin has been categorised in two ways. • Sins of commission. • Sin of omission. This verse identifies sins of omission. Jas 4:17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. ◦ This type of sin is very personal, because it has to do with your own understanding and of a situation. ▪ This is unlike sins of commission such as adultery, theft, murder etc. actively doing wrong. ▪ Sins of omission occur when someone has the capability and opportunity, but does not do what they know to be a good thing to do. • Choosing not to do the right thing is a sin. 2 Peter 2:21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. Jesus also spoke about omission. • The context of this passage is about being ready for the Lord’s coming. Luke 12:47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 28 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more." The right thing to do is to try and do the Lord’s will. • To do the right thing may involve compassion towards others. • To speak carefully and wisely. To speak the message that God has for us to speak. • To do the works that God has for us to do, and to submit to the Father. God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out. Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who do not believe in Jesus. The next section in chapter 5 is about Works.

Come Now – What You Have [5:1-6]. This is the second call to ‘come now’. • This section deals with the poor security of worldly wealth. ◦ The rich rely on wealth, money, material goods, for their security rather than relying on God. • In this section the emphasis is on the unreliable security that is found in riches. Spiritual profit is found in sharing not in hoarding, this is about our works, what we do with what we have. • Hoarded wealth ends up in corrosion and results in condemnation. You Rich The strong pull of riches creates a conflict that is harmful to the final outcome of our lives. • Riches can lead to pride, injustice, and selfishness, and this is the message in these verses. ◦ Jesus taught that there is a general problem with riches. Matthew 19:23 And Jesus said to his disciples, Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”" This does not mean that riches themselves are what condemn the rich to misery. • There were some rich men who were followers of God. ◦ Abraham, Job, Joseph, David, Solomon. In the New Testament there is Nicodemus. • It is not riches itself that classifies a person as evil, but rather it is prioritising riches above a working faith in God that leads to evil works. Matt 6:24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. I Tim 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. Money / mammon can function in opposition to God. D I Jones Living in Faith Page 4 of 6 • The problem presented in this text is that man becomes corrupt when his desire is directed towards riches, a worldly wealth that is man created, rather than having a desire for God the Creator of man. • The shift in desire is from what comes from God which is eternal to what comes from man and is temporal.

Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who do not believe in Jesus. The faithful in Christ are to share their wealth, not hoard their wealth.

The Future of Riches.

False confidence. [5:1-3]. Jas 5:1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Money may bring temporary merriment, but afterwards there is misery. In this verse there is a recommendation to weep and howl now because of a future consequence. • This reference to a present situation aimed at a future expectation is a copy of what has just been described in verse 13. ◦ In v.13 the rich make plans in the ‘now’, to buy and sell and to travel, anticipating a profit in what is to come. ◦ Here in ch5:1 the echo is that the rich are ‘now’ to weep and wail in anticipation of the miseries that are to come. Things are not turning out as they had planned. • Instead of joy, security, comfort coming from the riches, there is weeping, howling and misery. I Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf. An important aspect of this message is that living in the present is simply the journey into the future. • What we do now will affect what happens to us in the future. In the beatitudes in Luke, Jesus pronounces woes. One of these has to do with the rich. Luke 6:24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. In another well known passage Peter gives his confession that Jesus is the Christ. • Jesus then tells the disciples that He will be killed to which Peter responds by rebuking Jesus. • It would seem that Peter had ideas of grandeur, power and wealth ahead for the Christ and His followers. A worldly perspective and expectations. ◦ But Peter had got it wrong in a similar way to others who want to gain worldly riches. Mark 8:33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "“Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”" 34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." 35 "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it." 36 "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" 37 "For what can a man give in return for his soul?" 38 "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”"

Followers of Jesus behave differently to followers of the world. The faithful in Christ are to share their wealth, not hoard their wealth.

The story that is being told here is not one of rags to riches but of riches to rags. Jas 5:2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. When the end comes the rich do not get any help from their wealth. • If corrosion can affect even such enduring minerals a silver and gold, how much more will flesh, which is so much less enduring than metal, be corroded like a fire. • Wealth is measured in grain, produce from the fields [v.4]; in precious metals [v.3]; in clothing [v.2]. After a life time of accumulating treasure, it becomes worthless, it is simply more fuel for the fire. • Your own condition gets to the point where your body is of no more use to you and death takes over. Matthew 6:19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. D I Jones Living in Faith Page 5 of 6 Followers of Jesus behave differently to followers of the world.

The faithful in Christ are to share their wealth, not hoard their wealth.

Behold What the Rich Have Done [5:4-6].

Jas 5:4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. There are a series of things the rich have done. See what ‘you have’ – done. How the Rich Have Lived – Fraud. v.4 The rich have accumulated wealth from the labours of others. • Wages were kept back committing fraud. This was a wrong against employees. Deut 24:14 You shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. 15 You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin. • The rich have cared more for produce / production than for people. ◦ They have cared more about helping themselves than about helping other people. The Rich Have Fattened Themselves. v.5 You have a history of luxury and excess, a life in pursuit of pleasing themselves. Jas 5:5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. The thought in this verse is that the rich have nourished themselves in a similar fashion as is done to the fatted calf – ready for slaughter. • Don’t envy the rich. Jas 5:6 You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. The rich have treated the honest person unfairly. • In the pursuit of riches there may be times when the rich put others ‘out of the way’ – kill them, to facilitate their own pursuit of wealth. ◦ The rich can pay for the legal system to rule in their favour against the poor. ◦ The righteous do not react in the same way. They do not resist. There is an illustration of this the life of Ahab and Jezebel. I Kings 21:13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth cursed God and the king. So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. . . . 17 the word of the LORD came to Elijah . . . 19 And you shall say to him, Thus says the Lord, Have you killed and also taken possession? And you shall say to him, Thus says the Lord: In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.

Followers of Jesus behave differently to followers of the world. The faithful in Christ are to share their wealth, not hoard their wealth.


We are all going to die and there will be a place to go to and consequences to face. • Don’t envy the wicked who are like the fatted calf – fattening themselves for the slaughter. • There is advice about these issues from the Lord and from the apostle Paul and the writer to the Hebrews that we should take to heart and order our works accordingly.

Be content.

Jesus said:- Luk 12:29 "And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried." 30 "For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them." 31 "Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you." 32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." 33 "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys." 34 "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Paul wrote:- Phil 4:11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I D I Jones Living in Faith Page 6 of 6 know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I Tim 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, . . . 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. In the book of Hebrews:- Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” God as Creator has set in order how life, faith and behaviour will work out.

Those who have faith in Jesus behave differently to those who are worldly. [All texts quoted from the bible are taken from the ESV 2011]


Sunday 5 November 2023 - James 4:1-12 – Submit yourselves to God. Speaker: Bert Weenink.

James 4:7a Submit yourselves, then, to God. 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord.

Those commandments follow on from some serious statements about the believers James was writing to. Believers, mostly from Jewish descent. Did you notice James doesn’t mince his words? You adulterous people! You sinners. You doubleminded.

1. Fights, quarrels, selfish prayers, worldliness, slander and judging others

To live above with the saints we love; oh that will be glory.

But to live below with saints we know; well, that's a different story. 

There were certainly fights and quarrels among the believers James was writing to.

Now, you and I know that conflict is part of everyday life. There may be arguments or a falling out in work, at home, with friends or with strangers. In our lives most of us, if not all of us, have been part of quarrels at one time or another.

That happens out there but, regretfully, conflict does not cease at the door of the church. Churches are not conflict free zones. Christians do not easily get involved in a fist fight, but, as you were reminded a few weeks ago, we have a weapon that is far more powerful and destructive than fists, and that weapon is our tongue.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” is a well-known saying, but it is not true, is it? Words can be extremely powerful and destructive, hurtful and humiliating. I have seen new Christians shocked that there can be conflict in the church, as they expected unity and love in the church, and rightly so, because Christians should be different.

Throughout his epistle, James is asking some penetrating questions, and in chapter 4 we see that again: 4:1a ‘…’ It is good to ask such questions. Why is this happening? What is behind this argument? Why did this quarrel flare up?

When asked this question, those involved in a conflict may simply answer: ‘Who is at fault? ‘They are!’ The people I have been quarrelling with, are so unreasonable, so argumentative, so insensitive. If they would have been more thoughtful and considerate, these arguments would never have happened. Blame the others!

James soes not accept such reasoning. His answer is clear: 4:1b-2 ‘…’ 1:14 ‘…’ 3:9 ‘…’

Fights and quarrels are often fuelled by self-centredness, by pride and stubbornness.

Besides the fights and the quarrels, James pointed at the selfish prayers the believers were praying. 4:3 ‘…’ At the end of verse 2, we learn that such prayers never really reach God.

James also accuses his readers of spiritual adultery. They belonged to God, but instead of drawing close to God, they got involved with the world. James is very clear in what he thinks of that: Friendship with the world equals enmity with God.

I will just mention what James says in verse 11: We are not to slander or judge one another. Running others down is never right for a believer. The law tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves, and not to slander or judge them. 4:12 ‘…’

2. Come near to God and he will come near to you (4:8)

After all that James has said, about their behaviour, the quarrels, the selfish prayers and the worldliness, this is not what you expect him to say next: Come near to God and he will come near to you. This statement is wrapped in offers of grace as well as the need to repent:

4:6 “He gives us more grace…” Grace that prompts repentance in people, Grace that transforms.  Thank God for that. But something important comes alongside that: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” On the address label of this glorious pack of grace, it clearly says: To the humble!

Alongside the promise of grace, there are a few important things we need to consider:

  • Submit yourselves, then, to God – in other words, accept His agenda, submit to His will, be

single-minded in your desire to please Him

  • That desire to submit to God puts the believer on a collision course with the devil, and so we need to ‘resist the devil!’ That comes with a promise ‘He will flee from you.’ It is important to get the balance right and realise that the devil is active, he is our enemy and prowls around looking for someone to devour.’ We mustn’t ignore that, because he is real! And so we mustn’t trivialise his activities, but neither must we unduly fear him. What does it mean to resist the devil? I would argue, that submitting to God is really it.
  • Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded: Repentance involves both hands and heart, actions and attitude, behaviour and mindset.
  • What does true repentance, true turning from sin look like? According to James, it includes grieving, mourning and wailing - changing our laughter to mourning and our joy to gloom. Sin should never make us happy. Sin grieves God and sin is something we should weep over as well.
  • Humble yourselves before the Lord which comes with a promise: And He will lift you up. The sadness over sin changes into the joy of our salvation.

As we draw to a close, I just want to point out something that I skipped in the middle of the passage. 4:5 ‘…’

James gives us a real insight into the heart of God:  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? Or: the Spirit he caused to dwell in us longs jealously.  God jealously longs for fellowship with His people, with you, with me. Don’t think of jealousy as necessarily a bad characteristic. Compare it with the jealousy of the husband, who doesn’t want to share his wife with another man, or of the wife, who doesn’t want her husband to be intimate with another woman.

John Blanchard quote: “This jealously is the jealously of the Divine lover of his people, the one who loves you with an everlasting love; who was jealous for you the moment you first drew breath upon this earth; who was jealous for you when you took your first steps into life and continued to be jealous for you when you took your first steps into sin; he was jealous for you when you first heard his name; he was jealous for your salvation as the brought the gospel to you in one way or another, through one person and another, through one means and another, until he finally broke through in the power of the Holy Spirit and brought you to living faith. What is more, he is jealous for you now, jealous for your spiritual welfare, jealous for you in every temptation and in every trial, jealous lest you should be robbed by covetousness, compromise, worldliness, prayerlessness or disobedience in any shape or form. He is jealous that you should have that fulness of blessing, those riches of grace that he longs to shower upon every one of his people.

Notice that it is an intimate jealousy as the Holy Spirit has been caused to live in us. God’s jealousy, his love for us and his passionate concern for our welfare, is not exercised by ‘remote control’. He is right there, within us!

Brothers and sisters, our heavenly Father and our glorious Saviour and the Holy Spirit who lives within us ask us to submit ourselves to Go, wanting to do things His way, as well as to humble ourselves before him, knowing that we are not worthy, that we fall short, that we are just sinners saved by grace. .

What struck me on Friday evening when I was preparing was this:

  • When believers resist the devil, he will flee from us
  • When we come near to God, he will come near to us

And the wonderful truth of whatever we need to do, is that He does it. ‘…’ Amen.


Sunday 10th September 2023. Speaker: Chris Menzfeld

James 1v1-11

It’s always privilege to start new book & James is no exception. We should appreciate every book in SCPT, all 66 are equally inspired & relevant & have lessons for us today. Let’s not waste time with any controversies: such as opponents that say James’ teaching was in conflict with Paul’s, or that Luther had issues with James...there are always those who seek to undermine SCPT. Let’s stick with the text & focus 1 st James’ letter – how to appreciate it… to begin with… James was our Lord’s brother & the early church believed this – true there are 4 James in NT – John’s brother, both the sons of Zebedee Mk.1v19 who incidentally was the apostle killed by Herod AD44 in Acts 12v2, then there was another apostle of the same name, also there was the father of an apostle named Judas (not Iscariot) Lk.6v16. However, the weight of evidence points to the eldest of Jesus’ half-brothers identified in Mk.6v3, & we say eldest because he is named first. It appears James was converted soon after our Lord’s resurrection, & could have been when Jesus met with him 1Cor.15v7. What is clear is that he was in the UPPER room with His brothers Acts.1v14 waiting for Pentecost… Soon after he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem & following Paul’s conversion after 3yrs, when Paul went to Jerusalem, he met with Peter & James, no one else Gal.1v19. Paul also regarded him as 1/3 pillars alongside, Peter & John Gal.2v9… & it was also this James who presided over the Counsel of Jerusalem Acts 15v13. We might regard him as the senior pastor at the Jerusalem church. Another important matter is that like Paul, he began his letter with his name, & just as the churches were in no doubts about which Paul, likewise the Christians knew which James was meant. Next James was a servant v1 & begins his letter is a very approachable way…Greetings…My brethren (many times)… Readers are quickly put at ease because of the friendly & inviting introduction… i.e., James was not branding an apostolic stick for leaving Jerusalem but was very sympathetic to their situations... Next James was the 1 st NT letter probably dating between Acts 12v1 & Acts 14v28, less than 20yrs after the Resurrection. This means it precedes all the gospels, all of Paul’s letters, & the writings of John, Peter, & Jude (a younger brother). So, we are so blessed to be able to read God’s 1st NT document! Taking this position, will answer a whole lot of questions. Another matter for appreciation is the fact that the first Christians were predominantly Jews from the 12 tribes who were ‘scattered’ v2 following the great persecution after Stephen’s death Acts 8v1. A clue is found in Acts 11v19, where Luke uses the same GK word diaspora as James does for the word scattered…i.e., diaspora is used of Jewish Christians in a NT setting. This is re-enforced by the Jewish ‘atmosphere’ of the letter & OT characters which Gentiles would not be familiar with… Gal.1v9 also reminds us that James, Peter & John had a ministry to the circumcised. Importantly: Jerusalem became dangerous: Saul appeared in the Biblical narrative, & many Christians felt the need to go… They found themselves scattered throughout Palestine & beyond. They left behind unbelieving family, homes, & were far from the apostles…far from their home church…& far from their beloved pastor James…& they had to rebuild their lives, settle into new communities, try & get jobs, start new assemblies (‘synagogues’) 2v2…which explains a whole lot of things……not least the practical nature of the book, having been taught so well by the apostles, hence the lack of doctrine, & yet practical nature of the letter. So, there is much to thank God for & these things go a long way to explain next… Troublesome times – how to face them v2-4 Why begin with trouble? They left behind troubles & faced troubles… James appreciated they would face trouble described as ‘various trials’ v2…describing difficulties Christians encounter for Jesus…If He lives within us, we can expect trouble 1Pet.2v21. Satan knows who we are & we can expect the treatment Jesus received. We are often tested through circumstances but it’s usually people that trouble us… Little did James know at this time, (unless Jesus told him as he informed Peter Jn.21v18-19), that in AD62, scribes & pharisees would stone him to death because he loved Jesus (Josephus Antiquities book xx ch9.1) Next James tells us what our attitude to trouble should be ‘Count it all JOY’ 2 i.e., greet trouble as a friend – Olyott…count it all joy that you have been considered worthy to suffer for His name Acts 5v41…how come? James knows that troubles help shape our C character ‘the testing of your faith produces patience’ v3 God has arranged our circumstances – nothing happens to child of God by chance. Troubles help MOULD our character into the likeness of Jesus. So, troubles are teaching aids, used of God to transform us. Calvin once wrote on another text, ‘For God designs not to deal too delicately with His Church on earth; but when He gives tokens of his kindness, He at the same time mingles some exercises for patience, lest the faithful should become selfindulgent or sleep on earthly blessings, but that they may ever seek higher things’ – Devotions & Prayers p36 But troubles are not designed or intended to get us down or make us depressed… Granted there are troubles we experience just like everyone else, but there are also special & unique troubles because Jesus lives in us, which unbelievers don’t experience. Whatever the troubles are, we must be very careful not to entertain thoughts along these lines, that God permits us to suffer for any other reason than for the refining of our faith. God always cares, always does the right thing, & knows exactly what is necessary to help us grow. It’s not a mistake they come. All this reminds us that James has a strong view of providence 4v13-15: Phil.1v29 Wisdom – how to get it v5-8 To begin with note the IF in v5, as CHSp said along these lines…There is NO IF in the matter…No doubt about it we all lack wisdom & without God’s wisdom we will make mistakes & make bad decisions – CHQ p160 Now consider the context…NO NT…trouble…miles from home & friends…important decisions to make & no one to advise them, like James… They may have encountered situations like… James 1v1-11 What about my kids schooling…synagogues where they school kids won’t accept us because we’ve been excommunicated? Or… I’m thinking of starting a carpentry business in Nazareth? I have my eye on a property, I have done my sums, but what should I do? How will a Christian business be received in the town where Jesus worked in a carpentry shop? Who can I talk to? James anticipates this & says TALK to God – ASK for wisdom – He will give you the wisdom to make the right decision. That’s why we need wisdom…to honour God with our lives by making the right decision… The wisdom He offers is heavenly, from another world, & not like the education Moses received Acts 7v22. All Christians need God’s wisdom every day, especially older Christians who can be as guilty as anyone by trying to do things without God relying on their years of experience! Trusted advise in Jerusalem was perhaps 20-30-50-100 + miles away, even over the borders…BUT God is with us always… Next ASK without fear knowing God gives liberally & without reproach v5 i.e., He gives without getting angry & without being patronising…. Between 1991-93 I trained at LTS in London, & recall asking the principal Howell Jones many questions…He was very patient! Another teacher might have impatiently thought or voiced otherwise! God is not like that – He is the same as His son Jesus who was altogether lovely, gentle, meek & kind… Mt.12v20 What a forgiving & liberally giving God He is…He will give you wisdom… However, James expects us to…ASK expectantly without doubting v6-7 Let us for our part have due sense of expectancy in praying… Spurgeon records the following situation with a student who was preaching at Tower Hill in London & who was unhappy because he saw no conversions! CHSp: replied ‘Do you expect God is going to bless you every time you open your mouth?’ Student responds ‘Oh no sir I do not expect Him to do that’ ChSp: ‘Then, that is why you do not get a blessing’ Expect great things from God; attempt great things – Carey Faith without expectancy is no faith at all – Tozer On the text Mt.7v7, Ryle writes…Asking little, they must expect to have little, seeking little, they cannot be surprised if they possess little. It will always be found that when prayers are few, grace, strength, peace, and hope are small – Ryle Mark; Exp p16 At home, if our electrical wiring isn’t right, we know what it is to blow a fuse & suddenly all the lights go off! Doubting, double-mindedness, is like short circuiting a promise of God! Let us make sure we are wired right when praying. i.e., believe we will receive…there is always the danger we allow dark clouds of doubt to come between us & the sun of Rness... Being poor & rich – how to regard our circumstances v9-11 Most of those who were scattered were poor, like Jesus, whose funeral depended on charity… Some were rich like Joseph of Arimathea Mt.27v57, who provided for Jesus’ funeral… How are poor Christians to think? Think of those who fled Jerusalem at short notice, like war refugees, hardly a change of clothing, like those mentioned 2v2, with NO savings, NO social benefits, NO foodbanks, & at the mercy of others who regarded them as a SECT called THE WAY… I like the NIV 9 which reads ‘Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position’ HIGH position! even if a poor person struggles & is unhappy with their circumstances…they can be glad about their HIGH position in God’s eyes. We have a HVNLY calling Heb.3v1 with real estate in a better world Jn.14v2…also we are adopted children meaning we are regarded as if we are actually God’s children, & suppose Jesus had a surname, we could take it as our own because God is our Heavenly Father. If you have had a tough life, remember that most of the eight billion people on earth today have a tough life, but most don’t enjoy the HIGH position as we do! How are rich Christians to think? Humiliation v10 Incidentally, consider this, our money has greater buying power than the rich mentioned here… Also, whatever we gain & gather into our modern barns is because God has allowed it 1Chron.29v12. Even inheritances fall under His Superintendence. Not to mention any expertise & business acumen to get rich, assuming no wrong doing, also originates with Him. But, it’s all as fleeting as the green grass mentioned at the feeding of the 5000 Mk.6v39, along with the flowers here v10-11... The grass & flowers didn’t last long & soon wilted & the grass dried brown by the hot sun. So, our attitude must be one of humility…let’s not get big headed… Bringing these things together… • God had them on His heart & has you on His heart as well, hence the Book of James, included into the NT for our benefit, so we can learn the lessons the original readers were intended to learn – namely: • When tough times come – embrace them as heaven sent, with JOY, knowing that God is shaping your character into the likeness of Jesus & He hasn’t finished with you yet… • When tough decisions are needed, ask for His wisdom! You can ask without fear & if you do so with expectancy, He will help you to make the right decisions… • & whether you are rich or poor, spoilt, or richer than you deserve…remember your HIGH position as children of the King, & don’t let what you have, or desire to have, take you over. We can’t take it with us, & it can take us here! In closing: the early church was scattered into the world & James wants to stop the world getting into the church (4v4 friendship with the world is enmity). Nothing has changed. Perhaps a helpful title for this book is this: James is a letter to help stop the world getting into the church…




Sunday 13 November – Proverbs – Wisdom in the community

Speaker: Bert Weenink

INTRO: The Bible is full of words of wisdom. The actual word wisdom appears 234 times in the Bible spread over 29 of the 66 Bible books. The word wisdom appears most in what we call the books of wisdom, namely Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, where this word is found 113 times, equalling almost half of all the references in the Word of God.

The word wisdom appears 23 times in the book of Job, 8 times in the Book of Psalms, 28 times in the Book of Ecclesiastes and 54 times in the book of Proverbs.

In my preparations I came across the follow quote by Dr. Allan Moseley: “Wisdom is more than a technique, more than pragmatism. Wisdom is first of all relating to God properly.”

Hence that important truth in 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”.

Wisdom is first of all relating to God properly.

But that is not all. Although we begin with God, as we listen to Him, grow in our relationship with Him and desire to be guided by Him, true wisdom will also spill over in our relationship with others. The task I have been given is to look at ‘wisdom in the community.’

The question is how we as believers are to relate to those around us, to our friends and our neighbours and the community around us.

A. The effect of what we say

You have no doubt heard the saying: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” That is simply not true. What people say can have a devastating effect. In the playground. In social media. In the workplace. Talking to neighbours and about neighbours. Gossip and slander are described in the Bible as sin.

Let’s look at some principles found in the Book of Proverbs.

1. Silence is golden

Proverbs 11:9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbours, but through knowledge the righteous escape.

Proverbs 11:11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

Proverbs 11:12 Whoever derides their neighbour has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

Proverbs 11:13 A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

2 Corinthians 12:20 For I am afraid that when I come, I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.                        2. The tongue can be harmful and a blessing

Just Negative

Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.

Proverbs 25:20 Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.

Negative & Positive:

Proverbs 12:17-21 An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. 

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

Just Positive:

Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 25:12-13 Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. Like a snow-cooled drink at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to the one who sends him; he refreshes the spirit of his master.

James 3:6-10 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

Proverbs 25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.

B. The effect of what we do

1. It is wise to plan to be kind and generous

Proverbs 11:24-25 One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 14:21-22 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbour, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy. Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find[a] love and faithfulness.

Proverbs 25:21-22 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Romans 12:17-21 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

2. It is wise to be thoughtful and careful in our relationships

Proverbs 25:16-17 If you find honey, eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit. Seldom set foot in your neighbour’s house – too much of you, and they will hate you.

Proverbs 27:14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbour early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

3. It is wise to be peace loving

We already saw in James 3:18 that peacemakers who sow in peace, reap a harvest of  righteousness.

Proverbs 16:29 A violent person entices their neighbour and leads them down a path that is not good.

Proverbs 16:32 Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 28:14a Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord.

We need to grow in God-given wisdom, to grow in the knowledge of the Holy One. To grow in the fear of the LORD. To love God and His ways more than ourselves and our own ways. Let us pray for one another that our lives would be light and life to a dark and dying world. That our lives would stand in stark contrast to our culture in a way that captivates and breeds hope, love and desire for God. Let’s pray that the gospel may go forth, that the glory of His Kingdom would shine brightly through His people because we believe that His ways are sure, true, right, and good.

9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of The Holy One is understanding.” Amen.



Sunday 10th July 2022. Speaker: Dave Bracey

Mark 9: 30-50

Opening Slide

The book of Mark is one of the three synoptic gospels. The fourth gospel John has a slightly different focus and flavour to the other three gospels and is not called a synoptic gospel. Matthew, Luke and Mark are called Synoptic because they cover very similar ground. However, despite being one of the synoptic gospels the book of Mark seems more compact, events come thick and fast and its verses are packed with deep spiritual truths. This passage we are looking at tonight is rich in lessons and covers some deep spiritual truths about spiritual priorities, humility, God’s care for little children, about sin and about how we avoid sin, pride, and disputes by being changed and preserved by the Holy Spirit.


The passage begins in verses 30 & 31 with Jesus taking his disciples into a quiet place for a while, so that he may teach them. Now here’s our first lesson. Jesus made a choice, he could have spent that time in evangelism, or healing people or feeding the multitude. However, at least on this occasion he prioritises teaching and growing his disciples ahead of reaching the lost or works of mercy. There is value in listening to God’s word in church services, and Bible studies. You need to know God’s commands so that you can put them into practice and so grow in Him. Yes, the second greatest commandment is that we love our Neighbour as ourselves, but the first and most important commandment is that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and we need to invest time with Jesus if we are to achieve that.


Then in verses 33 to 35 we are taught another lesson. A lesson about humility.

The disciples were playing a game loved by sinful and proud men and women. A game that says ‘I’m better than you are’, ‘I’m cleverer, stronger, prettier, wiser, younger, richer than you are. I’ve achieved more, I’ve earned more, I’ve done more than you have.’  The disciples seem to have taken this one step further because when we read Matthew’s account of this event, the disciples were arguing about which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven – and they were doing this after Jesus had just told them that he would be delivered into the hands of men who would kill him.

Jesus is patient with them, he doesn’t rebuke them, but he does explain one of the great reversals that the Kingdom of Heaven is based upon. The first shall be last and the last first, it is the one who is least who is greatest.

I think that in order to understand this spiritual law we need to understand some principles about how God works through us to work out his purposes. To understand the secret to bearing fruit that will last to eternity, to understand how we become a profitable servant and how we can truly do good in this world that will have eternal significance.

Our natural inclination is to think as the disciples did. That it is by our talents, our skills, our energy that we build God’s kingdom. I know I’ve heard it said ‘Oh if only this celebrity or that famous person would become a Christian – what wonderful things they would achieve for God’. But that is not how it works. In 1 Corinthians 1 v 26 – 29 we are told:

 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

So, if it’s not our skills, our talents or energy that is the secret to bearing fruit, what is it?

Well, the first thing to realise is that none of us can achieve anything for God in our own strength. Ephesians 2 v 10 tells us:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Whenever God uses us in his service, we need to remember that He is doing the heavy lifting, in his love and in his grace, he allows us to participate but the work is done firstly by Him. It’s rather like a father saying to his young child “help me carry this case”, the father’s hand is around the handle, and the child puts his hand around the father’s. The child is delighted to help and feels like he is carrying the case, but an on-looker would realise that the father is doing 99.9% of the lifting involved.

And that’s how it is when we serve God. But I’ve noticed something else. It has been my experience that I have seen real fruit come forth on those occasions when I have put to death my dreams. When I have taken concrete steps to become poorer, to become less, to have less and to take a lower place so that God’s kingdom may be built, so that others might have more, it is on those occasions that I have seen God’s kingdom most extended, when I have seen most fruit come forth.

In John 12 v 24 – 25 Jesus explains this spiritual law further, He says:

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

These are not just fine words, it’s a description of reality that we can all live and experience.


In 1900, William Borden – was already a millionaire at the age of 18 when he went to Yale University, at the time there was not a single Bible study on the campus despite 1100 students studying there. By the time he leaves four years later there are 1000 students in Bible studies. He graduated and gave away his fortune as he said ‘I am called as a missionary’. That made national headlines across America because the Borden family were seriously wealthy and in fact to this day the Borden family in America is famous for its wealth. People said he was a fool. “Why not stay here and make more millions?”

Well Biden gets to the mission field and dies within a short time of arriving there. But John 12 says ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it abides alone. But if it dies it brings forth much fruit. Well, much fruit was bought forth – the story sweeps America and a missionary society is born out of Borden’s life and thousands go on to serve Jesus. After his death these words were found written in Borden’s bible:


‘No reserves, no retreats, no regrets’. 

William Borden became less in this world, so that in God’s sight, he would become more. Borden would have agreed I think with Jim Elliot who was a missionary martyred for his faith at the age of 28, he’d been married less than two years when he laid down his life for Christ. Jim Elliot said

‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’

Our passage moves on now and we find our third spiritual lesson here in this passage. Before we look at Mark’s account here, please can we just jump over to Matthew’s accounts of these events as in Matthew 18 v 1 – 5 he says:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

I think Matthew’s account is helpful because it reminds us that unless we change and become like little children, we cannot even get into Heaven ourselves, let alone helping anyone else to get there.

Mark’s account, which we are looking at today, shows that children do have a special place in Jesus’ heart, and the next lesson that this passage teaches us is about how deeply Jesus feels about them. For the passage contains a solemn warning for those who spiritually harm them and a promise of reward for those who spiritually help them.


Mark 9 v 36 – 37

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

V 42

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”

If you work with children in this church, then may God bless you. I’ve worked with children in about four churches over my lifetime and I know just how hard a job it can be. The work is demanding, time consuming, often largely un-recognised and frequently under-appreciated. It can often be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ as the Sunday school teachers take the children out of the service week after week and teach them faithfully while everyone else enjoys the service.

So, if you do, work with children, I hope that this passage encourages you. It should. Jesus is saying that what you do for those children he counts as being done for himself, and if the punishment for spiritually damaging a child is so great (better a millstone placed around your neck and you be drowned in the sea than suffer the punishment that God will give you), then perhaps it could be argued that the rewards for spiritually helping a child are equally great.

I did hear the story of an evangelist who was asked after a church service if anyone had come to Christ in the service. He replied, “Yes, three and a half”. His listeners were puzzled for a moment until someone said “Oh, you mean three adults and a child I suppose”. The evangelist replied “No, three children and an adult – for the children have all of their lives to now follow Jesus whilst the adult has already spent half of his life”.

There is evidence that children and young people are more open to the gospel than older people can be. A survey done in the United States cited by the International Bible Society indicated that 83% of Christians make their first commitment to Jesus between the ages of 4 and 14. Another survey conducted by an evangelistic denomination in the United States came to similar conclusions as shown in this diagram here:


Church, this should cause us to sit up and take notice. We can tend to under-value our youth and children’s workers, but according to these figures they are amongst the most valuable workers we have. Imagine what our churches might look like if we took this research seriously and acted upon it? What if 85% of the church’s budget was spent on the Sunday School and Youth Work? What if our paid staff members were the children’s workers rather than a Pastor?  It makes you think, doesn’t it?


Moving forward in our passage, the focus shifts again as Jesus moves from warning us against causing a child to spiritually stumble to warning us of the seriousness of sin in our lives.


Mark 9 v 43 – 48

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Now please do not think that Jesus intends us to read this and then start lopping off limbs. I don’t believe that is what is intended. I think that what is intended, is that Jesus is trying to show us how serious sin is and what a real danger the reality of Hell is. He’s saying, you cannot imagine the horrors that are there, if you knew the reality of Hell then you would do anything to avoid it. You would never tolerate sin in your life for a moment.

Jesus recognised that we have a tendency to be blaze about sin, to under-estimate its significance, to think that we can handle it. Human beings invariably lie to themselves when they wish to indulge in sin. They tell themselves that it won’t affect them and that they can pick up that sin and put it down whenever they want to, because they believe that they are in control. They’ll tell themselves things like:

  • I won’t get addicted
  • I’ll never get caught
  • My boss won’t realise what I’m doing
  • I won’t get pregnant
  • I’ll not catch that disease
  • My wife won’t suspect a thing

Actually, sin once given in to, is almost impossible to control. You are given a choice when it starts, to give in to it or to resist it, but once you decide to go down the path of giving in to it, choice can quickly disappear as sin entraps and controls you. Even in this world the consequences of sin can destroy you, in eternity the consequences of sin are far, far worse.

God tells us to flee from sin and he wants us to have a healthy fear of any wrong-doing or rebellion against God, because He does know what the reality of Hell is and He wants to keep us from it.


The passage concludes with verses 49 and 50,

Everyone will be salted with fire. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

There are lots of different views as to what these verses mean, different people have different opinions. I’ll give my opinion, but it is only my opinion, so take it with a pinch of salt (no pun intended).

Jesus has just been talking about the fire of Hell, he now starts talking about a different type of fire. For the disciples and believers that fire is the fire of the Holy Spirit which all believers receive. Ephesians 1 tells us when we believe, we are marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession. One of the purposes of God’s Holy Spirit is to burn away our old nature and to change us into the image of God’s son.


This is why there is a reference to salt here. In Bible days and indeed today meat could be preserved and have its flavour enhanced by having salt rubbed on the outside. Now that salt works its way through the meat so that all of the meat is preserved and its flavour is changed, enhanced.

So salt is valuable, good, but it can become of no use if it is diluted with other things and so loses its saltiness. The preserving, enhancing nature of salt is salt, sodium chloride, if you mix salt with other things such as sand or powder then its value is decreased and you will get corruption because it has lost some of its transforming, preserving power. Jesus is pulling all of the threads of this conversation together and explaining to the disciples and us that to avoid sin and to genuinely achieve unity, we need to be so full of the Holy Spirit, so focused on God that there will be peace between us. We won’t be falling out between ourselves by thinking who is the greatest, such a thought will never occur to us because our lives are salted, full of the Holy Spirit and our focus is Jesus. However, if we allow our focus to shift and to start to live for ourselves rather than for Jesus then our salt is diluted with other things, our salt loses its saltiness and we will lose unity and we will give way to sin. We will start to argue about who is the greatest and lots of other things as well. But if we will all be thoroughly salted with the Holy Spirit by keeping our lives focused on Jesus then we will both avoid sin and have peace amongst ourselves.


So to sum up:

We have looked at Mark chp 9 v 30 – 50.

We saw in verses 30 & 31 how Jesus prioritised teaching and growing the disciples, on that occasion, ahead of evangelising or healing people or feeding the hungry. We need to invest time with Jesus and spend time studying his word.

We looked at verses 33 – 35 where the disciples were competing and claiming to be better and more important than each other. Jesus calls a little child to him and teaches them about the nature of the kingdom of heaven. We saw today that we don’t bear fruit for God by our skills, abilities, hard-work, but it is He who does the heavy lifting. Nevertheless, he allows us to have a part in his plans and we can see fruit come of our service. The Bible teaches and the experience of many Christians is that real fruit comes as we die to our plans, our dreams, our desires and are instead willing to take a lower place so that Christ may be exalted and others blest.

We then looked at Christ’s care for children. His warning against those who would spiritually harm them and his words of encouragement for those who bless them. At this point we looked at the fact that something like 86% of people who are Christians come before they are 15 and we thought for a moment of the implications to our churches if we acted upon this insight.

We then looked at the seriousness of sin, at the lies that we as sinful human beings tell ourselves along the lines that we can handle sin and the urgent advice that Jesus gives us to flee sin at any cost because he knows that we cannot control it and He also knows the terrible reality that is Hell.

Finally in verses 49 and 50 Jesus pulls all of his teaching together and exhorts us to be salted with the fire of the Holy Spirit. This will keep us from sin, it will keep us from falling out as the salt of the fire of the Spirit will change us, enhance us, preserve us, making us more like Jesus and so ensuring peace between us.



Sunday 3rd July 2022. Speaker: Chris Menzfeld

When we think of great meetings, tend to think in terms of NATO leaders meeting recently in Madrid, or the G7, the leading lights from the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, which met in the Bavarian Alps in Germany 26-28 June to discuss war in UKR…
But the greatest meeting ever to take place on earth happened 2000yrs ago when the G8 met!
The occasion? When Jesus was transfigured from one degree of glory to another.
Who were there? Mk.9v2,4,5
Triune God – Father – Son – Holy Spirit (how else could Peter have known it was Moses and Elijah?)
3 greatest apostles, Peter James John
2 greatest prophets Moses (representing the Law) and Elijah (representing the prophets)
So, here was the greatest G8 representing the entire universe…
…heaven and earth…time and eternity…seen and unseen realms…
The contrasts between today’s passage and the transfiguration passage couldn’t be more striking!
From a mountain v2 to a valley v9
Greatest meeting ever one of the saddest meetings ever v17-18
Light from another world demonic darkness
Moses & Elijah Scribes v14
Glory of Christ demon possession when a poor boy writhed in agony
We could all wish we could stay on the mountain, where there are no shadows, no hurts…
BUT Jesus Himself came down the mountain, and blessed the people with His presence and healings…
He came to help a father & son in great need… 1) It’s in the valleys Christians are needed v14-18
i.e., it’s in the valley of human need where the harsh realities of life take place.
Where are the valleys?
Ask another question… where are the hospitals? What are our neighbours going through?
what about Ukraine…the refugees?
There are many known to us in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’… like the distressing scene here…
A demon possessed boy…a broken-hearted dad…death had cast its shadow… Satan does his worst… …even willing to destroy a boy’s life…how unspeakably cruel demons are…
This passage reminds us of the Christian warfare we involved in and that there is a great enemy who would have done this to us if he could! Satan has tried to prevent Jesus’ death already when Peter rebuked Jesus 8v31-33 Then, here on the mountain
Peter has a surge of electricity to suggest building three tabernacles v5 ‘one for YOU Moses Elijah’
i.e., it is plausible, a fiery dart triggered this outburst to delay the inevitable, the death of Jesus…
…predicted again in v12-13? Then, in the valley Satan throws fiery darts at 9 disciples through scribes ‘disputing’ v14
Scribes were trying to discourage, dismantle their faith, planting seeds of unbelief, blot out all that Jesus taught…so instead of a joyful meeting like on the Mt: Transfiguration… we find hostile scribes…
Suddenly Jesus arrived.
Everyone was ‘amazed’ v15 – it is likely Jesus still shone, as Moses did when he came down from Sinai… Then, Mark focuses on the great human need in the valley below
Our needs may not be as radical as demon possession, or an aggressive invasive cancer that possesses the human body and affects our bodily functions, or a WAR like in Ukraine, that ruins everything we have!
But distress is distress, suffering is suffering, and pain is pain.
2) It’s in the valleys where our needs are met v19-22 ‘Bring Him to Me’
Surely these are some of the most comforting words in SCPT, compassionate, reassuring words…
Here the need was someone’s son, a gift from God to his parents, a desperate situation…
How old was the boy we are not told, but it was a longstanding issue, from ‘childhood’ v21
How he became possessed we are not told. Was it pagan worship? Witchcraft?
It’s abhorrent enough to know that Satan is callous enough to influence and attack and possess a child at the earliest opportunity!
Not just steer him away from God, but viciously ruin his life. How evil the prince of darkness is!
But such situations are not too difficult to God.
Our Master Healer says ‘Bring Him to ME’…
More than that, He can fill the heart of a child with His presence!
THERFORE… let us…bring him…bring her…bring mum and dad…bring grandparents, grandchildren…
…bring your prodigal relative, friend…bring your illness, unemployment, retirement fears, financial concerns…
If ‘all things are possible’ v23, surely then, we can bring ALL our concerns…
Heavenly Father says ‘Hear Him’ v7…Jesus says ‘Bring him’ v19
Spurgeon on the text…
It’s in the valleys where our unbelief is addressed v23-24 ‘If you can believe… HELP MY UNBELIEF’
I want to say a little bit more on this 3rd point.
The father was beside himself – the 9 disciples couldn’t fix him v28…
…even though they had witnessed numerous exorcisms v38, even casting out demons themselves…
…but this category, according to OLDER translations, required fasting v29
…not commanded in the OT LAW but considered important by Jesus, who fasted 40days/nights Mt.4v2
…soon the disciples realised the importance of this new lesson Acts 13v1-3, 14v23 (Jews often Lk.18v12)
On the one hand: this was a new lesson for the disciples to learn. Is this a lesson we must RE-learn?
…prayer and fasting are powerful spiritual weapons that can make such a difference 2Chron.20v3,6…
… and to get God’s extraordinary help we must come in an extraordinary way.
…prayer and fasting are formidable spiritual weapons.
On the other hand: we need to remember the dangers of unbelief, which is a lack of faith! UNBELIEF is a big problem we all face and experience: whereas God would have us exercise faith.
So, we need to make our hearts a matter of prayer.
HELP MY UNBELIEF moment x moment, day x day…
HELP in GK has a continuative dimension (present active 997) because unbelief is a continuative problem!
Thankfully, God’s help is continually available… next Unbelief can hurt those we love:
Mt.13v53-58…not that Jesus couldn’t, but Jesus didn’t: so, the disciples, get this important lesson!
But, in this story, thankfully, Jesus stepped in, and delivered the boy, whose situation was so desperate.
Imagine how traumatic it was, to see an attempted suicide v22
But the question is invited…
Would the boy have been delivered sooner were it not for lack of faith of the disciples and father v24? Fervent prayer and fasting. I am just asking.
In what ways do we hurt our loved ones because of our unbelief?
Have we acted presumptuously without God?
Have we taken our family in a particular direction without guidance and hurt our loved ones?
It’s reassuring to know that our unbelief can be helped, overcome… HELP v24…
NO WONDER… Unbelief is displeasing to God: implied v19 ‘O faithless (unbelieving)’…
It has to be displeasing because Heb.11v6 states without faith it’s impossible to please God.
On the resurrection morning Mary Magdalene was full of joy when she met Jesus
– whereas disciples ‘did not believe’ 16v11
On the resurrection evening Jesus met with two disciples and they told the other disciples
– again, they didn’t believe 16v13
Heb.3v12 ‘Beware brethren…lest evil heart of unbelief’ … not a good heart… not a pleasing heart…
SO Unbelief is a sin: We all have many problems to face in life, and our allegiance to Christ puts us on a collision course with the world, because our mind-set is Biblical… but whatever issues we have to face… …we must trust God at ALL times in ALL circumstances.
Remember as well, the biggest problems we face are not just out there, but inside me!
It’s ME – ‘It is I’ said Augustine
We are our biggest problem, my cold heart, my lack of faith, me wanting to be 1st and God 2nd
Our lack of faith can rob us of joy and peace, and hide the presence of God…
It’s as if by our actions we are saying Lord, I don’t have confidence in you. I just don’t believe you can make a difference Lord! I don’t believe your word! I don’t believe you!
Such a mindset is sinful & displeases God!
Martyn Lloyd Jones
THEN Unbelief threatens the soul: It not only injures the soul but threatens the soul. Worse for the unbeliever!
Every sin makes (renders) salvation impossible by the law. Only one sin makes (renders) salvation impossible by the gospel. The sin of unbelief – Owen
Is there anything worse than missing out on heaven? Are you trusting in Jesus to forgive you, save you?
What a blessing to hear about Jesus who suffered – bled – died for sinners…
What an escape from hell He offers!
So, don’t let the blessing of hearing the gospel become a curse for you.
What do I mean?
The Bible is clear. Memory continues in hell, and if the gospel message is rejected because of unbelief?
…that message will become a CURSE in hell and haunt you for all eternity… If ONLY I believed…
It’s in the valleys we are needed and where our needs can be met….
And if we can BRING a tormented boy and if such a life can be so transformed and given a fresh start…
…then we can also BRING Him our unbelief, and what a difference that will make to us. Rather than missing out on blessings, we are blest with His grace to help us cope with the difficulties of life.


Sunday 26th June 2022. Speaker: David Herring

Mark 9 v 1 – 13 – The true nature of the Lord’s presence on Earth

These are brief notes on this passage, following a study shared at Edington Chapel on 26 June 2022.

While at the heart of this passage Mark records what we call “The Transfiguration”, it is part of the greater body of teaching the Lord was giving His disciples at the time. To do so, the Lord wanted a measure of privacy, away from the crowds, and so He took them to the far north of the country to the region of Caesarea Philippi. Here were the headwaters of the River Jordan, and towering in the distance was the mighty Mount Hermon, over 9000 feet high. Jesus wanted to hear the disciples’ confession of faith in Him as the Christ (Messiah), so that He could begin the explanation of why, as the Christ, He was here on Earth amongst them at that time. This teaching would be foundational to His whole ministry, His death and resurrection, and the truth underlying the future Church, which they were to lead.

As Jewish men, the disciples were well-taught in the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of a messiah as a reigning king on David’s throne, bringing about a worldwide kingdom of peace and harmony. But now, in chapter 8 v 27 to 38 (and elsewhere in the Gospels) Jesus moves them on from their profession of faith in Him as the Christ to show them that at this point He would be the suffering servant, also foretold by the Old Testament prophets. That didn’t fit within their hopes of earthly glory, and Peter rebuked Jesus, who in turn rebuked the satanic influence that Peter’s thinking was under. Jesus then started His general teaching to everyone regarding being ready to follow him in dying to self. By way of some reassurance, in 9 v 1 Jesus tells them that some there would indeed see the coming of His kingdom with power (following Pentecost), but it would be at that point a spiritual kingdom. As He tells us in Luke 17 v 21, the kingdom in this church age is within us, as we each personally own Jesus as Lord and Saviour and are endued with the Holy Spirit. We also know from His later teaching that He will indeed return, with us as His Bride, to establish a full millennial kingdom on Earth.

Verses 2 to 7 cover the details of the Transfiguration itself. Here are a few brief points by way of explanation.

  1. This was roughly a week following the teaching in Caesarea Philippi and could have been at one of two possible locations: Mount Hermon if they were still in the north; or Mount Tabor (about 2000 feet) on the plain of Jezreel back in Galilee. What is important was what happened on the mountain, not so much which mountain it may have been.
  2. Those chosen to witness this confirmation of His divine glory as the Christ were Peter, James and John. Peter was to be the initial leader of the Church after Pentecost and seemed to be the spokesman of the group of disciples in the meantime. James and John were closest to the Lord as possibly His cousins in the flesh, as their mother, Salome, was very likely a sister of Mary. John, indeed, would have a vital part to play in influencing the world of the divine status of Jesus as the Christ, though his writings and testimony.
  3. The Lord was engulfed in a dazzling glory – His by divine right and He could experience this on Earth due to His sinless life. John saw this again in His revelation on Patmos and records it in Revelation 1 v 12 – 17.
  4. Contrary to some commentators this was not a vision or out-of-body experience; it was a real event. Jesus was talking with Moses and Elijah, Peter made a definite comment, and Jesus told them not to share it until after His resurrection (v9). It was for them only at this stage in their education.
  5. God the Father links this revelation of His Son with His baptism by speaking out loud, this time by emphasizing the importance of listening to what Jesus is telling them.
  6. The presence of Moses and Elijah confirms that in His suffering servant role as the Christ, Jesus is the complete fulfilment of the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). The final words of the Old Testament foretell this (Malachi 4 v 4 – 6).
  7. A cloud brings the glorious transfiguration to a conclusion, as it did when Jesus’ work on Earth was complete, and He ascended back to the heavenly realms (Acts 1 v 9). The cloud will also part when He returns in the air for us at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4 v 17), and again, when he returns to Earth as the reigning king and every eye will see Him (Revelation 1 v 7).

In verses 8 to 10 we see that the glorious vision could not be permanent with the creation of “shelters”. The experience was to be part of their education and understanding as they were being taught God’s redemptive purposes in preparation for this new era of human history. Peter confirms this with his comment in 2 Peter 1 v 16 – 18. Sometimes the wonderful spiritual experiences we have in our own present lives cannot be permanent but are given from time to time for our experience, encouragement, faith, and sanctification. However, at all times we must remember that our Christian walk is not primarily a matter of routine, tradition, organisation or religion, but is to see Jesus with spiritual eyes and enjoy the reality of His presence in our midst. Sadly, we aften leave a service or gathering no more spiritually blessed than when we came in at the beginning.

Verses 11 to 13 bring in the concept of the “Elijah who must come first”. In verse 13 Jesus refers to the life and end of John the Baptist, the forerunner of this whole work of the Christ as suffering servant. Matthew 11 v 11 – 15 adds clear teaching to this fact. Actually, the parallels are very telling: Elijah was persecuted by Ahab and Jezebel; John the Baptist was persecuted by Herod and Herodias. This leaves us with the thought that as we near the end of the church age, and the signs of that end which Jesus taught us are very evident, is there an “Elijah” promised for today? Unless one emerges very soon, we should probably conclude that this task is down to all of us as “Watchmen on the wall” (Ezekiel 33 v 1 – 9). The growing and very evil events causing much fear at present throughout the world are not the full judgements due in the Tribulation period but are the foreshadowing of those judgements - that are to come on a vast scale. It is our task to tell the world that this is so, and the only escape is to receive Jesus now, as Saviour and Lord.


Sunday 19th June 2022.  Speaker: John Digman


2 Samuel 9


I imagine some of you will have heard of Selwyn Hughes, who was a Christian minister and who wrote the ‘Every day with Jesus’ daily devotional. He also developed a model of Christian Counselling, which is still being taught today at Waverley Abbey College in Surrey.


Selwyn Hughes’ model for counselling suggests that all humans were made in the image of God, and, before the fall, humanity experienced:

  1. Security - the sense of being loved unconditionally
  2. Significance - the sense of meaning and purpose
  3. Self-worth - the sense of being valued


Sin, however, has changed things - and now, these attributes which Adam and Eve had before the fall, have become needs or longings for us now:

  • Security has become insecurity
  • Significance has become insignificance
  • Self worth has become inferiority


Selwyn Hughes argues that everyone seeks to find these longings from something in their life. I believe one particular danger as a Christian is that we can try to meet these needs in our lives by Christian activity rather than by Christ himself - who alone can offer ultimate security, significance and self-worth. If you feel loved, feel valued and have a sense of purpose in life, then this will lead to human flourishing.


Why am I telling you any of this? Well, as we discuss this beautiful story of David and Mephibosheth today, I’d like you to keep your eyes peeled to notice these core human longings being met in his life by David.


Let’s kick off.


Mephibosheth is the son of Jonathan, David’s best friend, and the grandson of King Saul, the first King of Israel who became intensely jealous and paranoid about David. We first meet Mephibosheth as a 5-year-old boy following the death of Saul and Jonathan:


2 Samuel 4:4 (Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)


The nurse hurried to leave with Mephibosheth because his life was in danger - it was typical in the culture of the time that when one royal dynasty superceded another, the remaining members of the previous ruling family would be killed to eliminate the risk of rebellion. David had just taken over as King over Israel, and it would have been expected that he would kill any remaining members of Saul’s household, securing his claim on the throne. In her hurry to get Mephibosheth to safety, the nurse dropped Mephibosheth and he became lame in both of his legs.


20 years later, we reach 2 Samuel 9 - the passage read earlier in our service - and we encounter Mephibosheth once again. It’s important for us to notice some details we are told about him here in 2 Samuel 9, because in Mephibosheth, we get a glimpse of our own spiritual life before God:


Mephibosheth’s background - came from, disability, family


Where he came from


V4 - “Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”

Mephibosheth had escaped David at the age of 5, and had since been living in Lo Debar. Most commentaries agree that Lo Debar can be translated into English as ‘nothing’ or ‘nowhere’. At the start of this chapter, Mephibosheth is living in the middle of nowhere. Lo Debar was miles away from Jerusalem and was most likely on the other side of the River Jordan - and so Mephibosheth is living miles away from the place where God dwells in the tabernacle, and outside of the promised land God gave to Israel. Lo Debar is not where you want to be!

Yet… Lo Debar is where all humanity is, spiritually. We are all quite content with setting up comfortable homes and lives in Lo Debar - the default position of humanity is living outside the promises of God and away from his presence, with no vision for anything beyond the here and now.
Mephibosheth didn’t leave Lo Debar until he was called to Jerusalem by David. We too need God to speak our name and call us to himself...


He was lame in both his legs


We are told this once in 2 Sam 4 and twice here in 2 Sam 9 - in v3 and v13. In the ancient Middle East those around him would have seen Mephibosheth’s disability and attributed it to sin: either his sin or his family’s sin. We see an example of this in John 9:2 when the disciples ask Jesus about a blind man - “His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”.


Mephibosheth’s disability would have been considered a consequence of sin - a visual representation of a spiritual reality. Jesus answers the disciples in John 9 saying that the man’s disability had nothing to do with his sin or his family’s sin.

So despite how those around him may have seen this, you could argue that Mephibosheth’s disability didn’t have anything to do with sin…

However, we can still genuinely see a visual representation of a spiritual reality - Mephibosheth’s physical condition in this story pictures humanity’s spiritual condition before God. When we see Mephibosheth limp his way through life, it paints the story of our spiritual lives. His disability would have made him a social outcast, humanity’s spiritual failure makes us an outcast from the blessings and promises of God.


He was born into a sinful family


We touched on this briefly in our last point. Mephibosheth was a blood relative of Saul - who the Lord put to death because of his wickedness:

1 Chronicles 10:13 - “Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David son of Jesse”

Mephibosheth’s identity was bound up in his family. He was Saul’s grandson - and so he took on the shame and guilt of his family.


Again, Mephibosheth’s background gives us a window into our own spiritual condition: all of us have been born into a shameful, sin-stained family line. Our forefather Adam rebelled against God, and we all carry with us this family likeness:

Romans 5:12 - -“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned”

Mephibosheth needed to either forsake his old family and join another, or he needed his family honour restored. We too need something to change - we’re stuck in Adam’s family, born into the curse God laid on the world at the fall. We need a second Adam to come and restore our honour and graft us into his family… Praise God that Jesus has done just that!


David’s kindness


The other main character in this story is David - the mighty King of Israel and a man after God’s own heart. The chapter begins with David remembering a promise he made to his best friend Jonathan. Turn back with me to:


1 Samuel 20:12-17 - Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favourably disposed towards you, will I not send you word and let you know? But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family – not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.’ So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.’ And Jonathan made David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.


This dialogue between Jonathan and David teaches us two key things with respect to our passage today. Firstly, we see the promise David agrees to make - that he will show ‘unfailing kindness’ to Jonathan AND Jonathan’s family. Secondly, we see that David’s promise isn’t made out of obligation, but of love. Jonathan and David were mutually committed to each other in brotherly love, and were pleased to make oaths committing themselves to one another.


Fastforward 20 years… and David hasn’t forgotten his promise to Jonathan. David is actively seeking out members of Jonathan’s family to show kindness to.


2 Sam 9:1 - David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”


v3 goes on to tell us that he intends to show God’s kindness to him. The Hebrew word underlying this word ‘kindness’ in these verses is the word ‘Hesed’, which expresses a combination of love, generosity and enduring commitment. It’s used to describe God in Exodus 34:6 - “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”


Another good example of this type of covenant kindness is the story of Ruth and Naomi. After Ruth’s husband dies, human wisdom would suggest she goes back to her own country to find a new husband - something Naomi suggests she does. However, Ruth has deep love and commitment to Naomi and says “Where you go, I go. Where you stay, I stay.” This loyal love is not based on Naomi’s worth or value, or on conditional upon Naomi doing something for her in return. It is an expression of Ruth’s character and genuine care for Naomi.


Coming back to our story, David’s kindness here is this same kind of covenant kindness. It is generous, loving action fuelled by his commitment to Jonathan - and he is not expecting anything in return from Mephibosheth. It is unconditional and long lasting. This is meant to point us to the ‘Hesed’ (or loyal kindness) God has for his people - for us. Like the example of Ruth and Naomi, or David and Mephibosheth, God’s steadfast love for his people is not based on our merit or worth, nor do we have to pay God back in any way. God’s steadfast love for us is, firstly a reflection of His character, and secondly, is dependent on Jesus.


David showed kindness to Mephibosheth for Jonathan’s sake. God shows kindness to us for Jesus’ sake.


If Mephibosheth had not been Jonathan’s son - well he would still be back in Lo Debar limping through life. It was his status as a member of Saul’s family that was the deciding factor on why he was summoned to the banqueting table of David.


Friends, God also does not show this covenant kindness to everyone, but only to those who are one with Jesus. He shows lovingkindness to those who confess and repent of their sin, and put their faith and trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do you know him today? If not, can I urge you to turn to him, and experience for yourself the wonderful covenant kindness of God to you in Jesus.



Mephibosheth’s encounter


As the reader, we know from the outset that David has good intentions in calling Mephibosheth to see him. But Mephibosheth isn’t privy to this information in advance. Can you imagine how terrifying it must have been for Mephibosheth to receive a knock at the door from a representative of the King…? He couldn’t exactly run away…! Remembering he was a nobody from nowhere, that he was considered a sinner and outcast because of his disability, that he carried the name and the shame of his grandfather, Saul - I wonder if Mephibosheth believed he was traveling from Lo Debar to a swift execution in Jerusalem.


On his arrival, Mephibosheth immediately bows before David, and David utters such precious words to him. “Mephibosheth. Do not be afraid”. Then in v7, David promises to show kindness to him because of his commitment to Jonathan.


I get the sense that Mephibosheth doesn’t know how to respond. He replies “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”.


David doesn’t directly answer the question, but we’ve already thought about his motives.


We would expect David to deal harshly with Mephibosheth, and in the same way we would expect God to deal harshly with us - we are wicked people descended from the first rebel, Adam - and we know that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. We too are guilty of deep and deliberate sins against God. Yet God deals with us gently and, like David shows to Mephibosheth, God seeks us out to lavish his kindness on us.


David summons Ziba, Saul’s servant, and explains that all of Saul’s possessions and servants and land now belong to Mephibosheth. But these things are just the beginning of the blessing poured out on Mephibosheth - there is a greater honour in store for him than material things… David declares that Mephibosheth will always eat at his table. Wow! What a dramatic change - a nobody from nowhere to a permanent seat at the King’s table.


Song of Solomon 2:4 - “He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love”


For this to be true for us too, Jesus had to take on flesh, and die in our place. Philippians 2 tells us that he did this willingly and voluntarily - he took on Mephibosheth’s position: being a carpenter from Nazareth was effectively the same as being a nobody from nowhere.


Yet even being sat at David’s table is not the greatest honour bestowed on Mephibosheth. See v11 - "So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons". Mephibosheth was effectively adopted into the David’s family and enjoyed the privilege of being treated as his son.


Can you see the similarity for us, Christian?


1 John 3:1 - See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


Praise God!




At the beginning of this talk, we briefly thought about Selwyn Hughes’ counselling model and the three core human longings. Did you see the dramatic change in Mephibosheth in just this one encounter?


Security - the sense of being loved unconditionally - Mephibosheth did not do anything to receive David’s kindness and love, he received this unconditionally based on David’s promise to Jonathan, not based on anything good in himself, and so he could know true security.

Significance - the sense of meaning and purpose - Mephibosheth was limping through life in Lo Debar, but now he has a role and a purpose - managing his grandfather’s estate and joining a new family

Self-worth - the sense of being valued - we know what Mephibosheth thought about himself - he called himself a “dead dog” - but David made him ‘like one of the King’s sons’.


Friends, as David’s intervention changed Mephibosheth’s life, so Jesus’ intervention changes yours. We still long for security, significance and self-worth now, but can have a deeper sense of these things as we press deeper into our relationship with Jesus. And of course, we have full and perfect security, significance and self-worth awaiting us in glory when we are with Him.



Sermon notes from Peter Aird.  Sunday 12th June 2022.  Mark 8 

Can I make a confession? Whilst it is always a pleasure to be invited to Edington, when Andrew asked if I would speak on Mark 8:22-38, I wasn’t particularly enamoured with the idea. Because at first sight the three sections that are before us this morning seemed - well somewhat unconnected and I was a little concerned that any sermon I might preach might be rather bitty.

The problem was, of course, that at first, I didn’t fully see what was there to be seen. At first I wasn’t as excited by the passage as I have come to be after looking at it more closely. And my hope is that, by the time I’ve finished, you too will see something really rather wonderful in what is, I believe, a pivotal point in Mark’s gospel.

So let’s begin with the first section of our passage - Mark 8:22-26 - in which Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida but appears at first glance to make something of a meal of it, failing as he does to bring about the complete and instantaneous restoration of the chap’s sight and having to have a second bash at the miracle before bringing about the desired end. This is not something we are accustomed to with Jesus. Previously in Mark’s gospel, Jesus’ healing have been achieved through a word or a touch and the healing on each occasion has been complete and instantaneous. And so we would expect something similar here. Jesus is, after all, God. So why this apparently ham-fisted attempt at a healing? Are we seeing evidence that God’s power is not quite as infinite as we have been lead to believe that it is?

It’s all rather odd. Some people bring a blind man to Jesus and they beg Jesus to touch him. Presumably they knew what Jesus was capable of and had brought this man to him either because he was a friend for whom they desired healing or, alternatively perhaps, simply because they wanted to see for themselves what others had told them about, to see, as it were, the evidence for themselves. I don’t think we can know for sure but either way we see Jesus take the man by the hand and lead him out of the village where, in a way that would cause Chris Witty to despair, Jesus spits on the man’s eyes and lays hands on him.

And then Jesus asks the man, ‘Do you see anything?’. Is there some uncertainty here on Jesus’ part. Is he a little anxious that he hasn’t been able to achieve the healing in the way he was hoping? If so then Jesus’ nervousness seems well placed because, rather than an unqualified ‘Yes’, the man says: ‘I see men, but they look like trees walking’.

Now don’t get me wrong, what Jesus has done thus far is still pretty impressive - but it’s not as impressive as those who brought the man to Jesus, or indeed the man himself, would have been hoping for. And it seems, nor was it the result Jesus was hoping for. Because he has a second go at it! He lays his hands on the man’s eyes again and this time, normal service is resumed, and, opening his eyes, the blind man is blind no more, his sight was restored.

Now, for those of us who know anything at all about God, we know that his power is absolute and that he acts sovereignly to do all that he chooses. As such we must dismiss the notion that Jesus was experiencing some kind of power failure. On the contrary we must also conclude that it was Jesus’ express intention to restore the man’s sight in stages. But why? Why the two stage healing?

Some have suggested that the point of this passage is to demonstrate that Jesus sometimes works in ways contrary to our expectations and that we should not insist that Jesus always acts in a ‘one size fits all’ kind of a way. Now that is something that I am sure we can indeed take from this passage, particularly in relation to how an individual comes to faith. Just because the story of your conversion involves a voice from heaven calling your name, you really mustn’t insist that God saves everybody else in the same way. Its what you now see and believe that’s important, not how quickly you came to see and believe it.

But I think there’s more to our passage than simply that.

Others have suggested that the two stage healing was a consequence of the blind man’s initial  lack of faith and that the first stage of the healing increased his faith such that the second stage of the healing could then take place. 

But such an interpretation is problematic as it suggests that Jesus is limited by the man’s faith and this is surely not the case for what kind of a God would he be if he were confined by what he had created. So then, if it is not simply to demonstrate that Jesus can act contrary to our expectations or the result of some, falsely imagined limitation of God’s power, what is the point of Jesus’ two stage healing?

Well I think it’s this. Jesus’ miraculous healing of the blind man is the acting out of a parable by which we are taught that though we see, it is possible for us to still be relatively blind. And I say this because of where in Mark’s gospel we read this account. For, as I said earlier, it comes at a pivotal point in the book.

The first half of the book culminates with the next four verses of this mornings reading with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. The previous eight chapters have been all about Jesus being the coming King. Ever since the start of Mark’s Gospel when he arrived in Galilee and began his public ministry by proclaiming that ‘The kingdom of God is at hand’, Jesus has been declaring his kingship by demonstration after demonstration of his kingly authority - authority over evil spirits, authority over the forces of nature, authority even over disease and death itself.

And so we come to Mark 8:27 and we find Jesus asking his disciples ‘Who do people say that I am?’. After eight chapters of evidence the question is, do people recognise Jesus for the king he really is. And sadly the answer that the disciples give is ‘No’. Some say he is John the Baptist, which is itself a remarkable claim since, for that to be the case, it would be necessary to believe that he’d risen from the dead having had his head chopped off by Herod back in chapter 6. Others make equally impressive claims for who Jesus is by considering him to be Elijah or one of the prophets. Clearly then Jesus is seen as someone of huge significance, but despite their high regard for Jesus, the people fail to see the glorious truth that is recognised by Peter who, when Jesus asks the disciples who they say he is, answers on behalf of them all by declaring him to be the Christ. Now we need to remember here that ‘Christ’ is a title. When we talk about Jesus Christ it’s not that Jesus is his forename and Christ his surname. No, Jesus Christ is another way of saying King Jesus.

So Jesus is King. This is what Peter sees and affirms on behalf of the disciples who, remember, Jesus accused of being blind to who he was earlier in this very chapter. But now they see something that they didn’t before - that Jesus is the Christ. And that is the culmination of the first half of Marks gospel, that is what the book has thus far been all about.

So why, then, after such a great declaration, does Jesus strictly charge the disciples to tell no one about him?

Well I think the answer to that one is this. Like the blind man after stage one of his healing saw but remained partially blind, seeing only a portion of all that was there to be seen, so too Peter and the other disciples saw only a part of who Jesus was. And until such time that they saw even more clearly, the time was not yet right for them to talk of Jesus to others. Because, were they to do so, they would only have got things very wrong indeed.

‘OK’ you may be saying to yourselves, ‘What more did the the disciples need to see. They knew he was the King, what more could there be for them to come to understand. Well simply, and wonderfully, this - they needed to understand the nature of Jesus’ kingship - that Jesus was to be a Servant King, a king who would suffer. Not only that, he would be a king who would suffer and die.

And this is I think evident from the next few verses of our passage today. Because it is this that Jesus goes on to teach. Think of it like this: Lesson One: Jesus is King. Lesson Two: The King is one who must suffer and die. Lesson Two can only begin once Lesson One is fully understood but so important is it that this Lesson Two must begin as soon as Lesson One is grasped.

Mark’s gospel will culminate with Jesus dying on a cross and his subsequent resurrection, and the second part of that gospel now begins with Jesus teaching the disciples that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes. that he will be killed, and after three days, rise again. Our passage tells us that Jesus said all this plainly - that there could be no misunderstanding of what it was that he was saying.

But Peter is having none of it.

Peter takes Jesus to one side and rebukes him. Remember this is the same Jesus that Peter has just declared to be king. Surely then this is the height of arrogance. To rebuke the king is appalling behaviour. Peter is saying that he will not allow Jesus to suffer and die and, whilst we might be tempted to applaud Peter for his devotion to Jesus, the truth is that it is far from praiseworthy to tell Jesus that what he teaches is wrong!

And neither it is good for us to suggest that what Jesus teaches is wrong, irrespective of how difficult, how out of date, or how contrary to what might be popular, that teaching might be. Jesus speaks the truth and Peter’s response is nothing other than the evidence, if evidence were needed that, though seeing, he remained blind to who Jesus really was. Neither he nor the other disciples were ready then to tell the gospel to others for, as yet, there was no gospel for them to proclaim. For without a King who suffers and dies, without a king who pours out his blood for the forgiveness of his people’s sins, there is no good news to tell.

Far from being worthy of admiration, Peter’s assertion that Jesus should not suffer and die is nothing short of a satanic suggestion. ‘Get behind me Satan’, Jesus says to Peter, recognising where the suggestion that he should avoid the path of suffering ultimately comes. Jesus then rebukes Peter, and rightly so as, pointing out that Peter is not setting his mind on the things of God but rather on the things of man.

Now at this point in the sermon I’d like to spend a few minutes talking about Martin Luther’s 1518 Heidelberg Disputation. Now if that sounds heavy, it is a bit, but I’d ask you to bare with me as I hope it will prove worthwhile for in it Luther distinguishes two theological systems which mirror the way Peter and Jesus are thinking in this part of our passage.

Luther begins by saying that we need to appreciate that God is who he is. We need to understand him in relation to who he has revealed himself to be and not on the basis of how we would like him to be. Because the two are often very different.

The thing is that we are fallen creatures and that means that our desires are fallen too. As a result, the things that we want may not necessarily be the same as the things that God wants. Furthermore, when we insist that God acts in ways that we want him to, when we expect him to want for us what we would want for ourselves, what we are actually doing is creating for ourselves a God in our own image and, as such, we are guilty of idolatry. More than that we endeavouring to usurp God and take his place on the throne ourselves.

To counter this arrogant and rebellious attitude, action needs to be taken. And taken it was - at the cross. Luther rightly sees the cross as central to Christianity. He calls it God’s ‘alien work’, an attack, not only on sin, but also on who we are in our fallen state. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, that wholly unexpected event in history, is central to God’s revelation of himself. At the cross God goes to work and, seemingly paradoxically, manifests his glory through suffering and death.

Those who understand God in these terms Luther calls ‘theologians of the cross’. They are, he says, those who see God as he really is, who accept that God’s ways are higher than theirs and are therefore prepared for God to act in ways that they would not chose. Theologians of the cross understand that, just as it was through the cross that he most fully revealed himself to the world, so we must be prepared for Him to still sometimes use pain and suffering as the means by which he most fully reveals himself to us.

In contrast, Luther has a term for those who imagine that God necessarily wants for them what they want for themselves. He calls them  ‘theologians of glory’. They are those who, like Peter in our passage, want to forgo the way of the cross and instead believe that God will act according to their desires. They are those who believe God will provide for them their best life now, a life that is devoid of suffering, a life characterised instead by health, wealth and prosperity.

But like Peter, such theologians of glory, have got things badly wrong. We need the cross, not only to deal with our sins but also to deal with our sinful nature. The truth is that we have to die to self  and become instead the new creations that God wants us to be.

Which brings us to the final few verses of our passage.

Jesus said ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul. For what can a man give in return for his soul’

Jesus is saying if we want to live, we need to die. Paul in Romans 8:13 says the same thing -  ‘If [we] live according to the flesh [we] will die but if by the Spirit [we] put to death the deeds of the body, [we] will live.’

This is a hard teaching. And particularly so for those who have only seen Jesus as the King and not more fully as the King who will suffer and die. Even so, in contrast to Peter and theologians of glory, those who think as the world thinks and minimise the necessity of the cross, seeing the crucifixion as merely a demonstration of God’s love for us rather than the bloody sacrifice that was required for our salvation, we need to become theologians of the cross who, seeing things as they really are, acknowledge our inherent sinfulness and the perilous danger we are in if we fail to appreciate this reality. And we need to accept that God, just as he did 2000 years ago through the means of cruel nails and a bloody cross, still sometimes works to bring about his purposes in ways that are incomprehensible to the world.

But how can we become such theologians of the cross? Well the answer is, not by our own effort. Only God can bring about such a change in us. And he will though the process may sometimes be painful.

Because sometimes he works through heartache and sorrow,

Sometimes he works through pain and suffering.

And sometimes, perhaps, he may even work through a global pandemic and a war in Eastern Europe.

The end result though will be good for us. When hardship comes it is not vindictive punishment that God is inflicting on us but rather the loving discipline of a Father who only wants the best for his children. To be humbled, to know what it is to be defeated by God, conquered by him, far from being the end, is in fact the beginning! Because, as Jesus says, he who loses his life, will find it!

Because here’s the thing. There is a joy to be had in being conquered by someone who is greater than we are ourselves, by one who is worthy of our admiration and in whom we can delight. The book of Jeremiah tells us that by seeking satisfaction in ourselves we ‘have committed two evils: Not only have we have forsaken God, the fountain of living waters, we have also hewn out cisterns for ourselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. [Jeremiah 2:13]. There is, therefore, no ultimate joy in admiring ourselves but there is real refreshment to be had in the contentment that comes from no longer having to win, a relief that comes when the burden of having to be awesome is lifted, a pleasure that flows from admiring God, the only one who really can satisfy our souls.

To be humbled by God in this way, to have our eyes taken off ourselves that, gazing on the beauty of his holiness we might delight in him, really is good for us.

And so, when life is difficult, as it sometimes is, for me as well as others, and when I am tempted to wonder where God might be, I need to think more like a theologian of the cross, one who sees that God is working through the pain and sadness, breaking my fragile dependence on myself in order that I might depend securely on him, lessening my unsatisfying obsession with who I am in order that I might be fully satisfied in him, the one who lovingly puts me to death in order that I might one day rise again in Christ.

And  when the difficulties are genuinely overwhelming it is good for me to remember that ‘this light momentary affliction [really] is preparing for [me] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as [I] look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal’ [2 Corinthians 4:17-18].

Only as God lovingly brings us to this point of defeat will we find real comfort in ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God’ [2 Corinthians 1:3-4]

But as these verses continue we see again the paradoxical nature of our God, one who refuses to conform to worldly expectations. For it is not only that God comforts us in our suffering. Paradoxically it is as we suffer that we are comforted. Paul writes ‘For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too’.

Luther completed his Heidelberg Disputation with words which are, once again, totally contrary to how the world thinks. This is what he says: ‘The love of God does not first discover but creates what is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through attraction to what pleases it.’

Luther is saying that whereas our love is only ever a response to what we find lovely, God’s love originates within himself. And because he is by nature love, [John 4:8] he loves us, not because we are lovely but rather in order that he might make us lovely. God, through the foolishness of the cross, through the pain, suffering and death experienced both there and in our lives, does everything necessary to make us how we were always meant to be, everything necessary for our salvation including all that is required to make us humble enough to accept it. And so, irrespective of how painful that process may be, we can be sure that whatever befalls us in this life does so at the hands of a God who loves us

There are those who say that God loves us as we are. And they are right. But his love doesn’t leave us as we are. Rather his great love is such that he works to change us into the likeness of his son. And this good work that he has begun he will bring to completion. When Christ returns we will be made like him.

And that is what we all want isn’t it? Or is it? Listen to Paul’s words in Philippians 3:10 where Paul writes of how his desire is ‘that [he] may know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death’

It is challenging for me to read of how Paul wants to become like Jesus in his death. I don’t know about you but I have, over the years, found it easy to say that I want to be like Jesus. But when I have, I have always meant it in the sense of wanting to be like him in his moral perfection. I have never thought of it in terms of wanting to be like him in his death. Even so, that is what we are called to be.

We are called to suffer. But this, I believe, is not only for our good, but also for the good of others. So let me finish by asking an age old question and suggesting a possible answer. The question is this:

‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’

And the answer I would like to suggest is this:

‘So that good things can happen to bad people’

For isn’t that the answer to the question of why the worst possible thing happened to the best possible person? Isn’t that the answer to why Jesus was crucified? So might it not also be the answer to why we suffer? Of course, none of us here today are good people, not in the sense of us being morally perfect. But as Christians we are those whose sin has been forgiven, we are those who are counted righteous in Christ and who, in that sense at least, when we suffer, do so undeservedly.

So a better question might be ‘Why do bad things happen to God’s people?’. Why does God allow us to suffer? The answer I think remains the same - so that good things can happen to bad people. Both we ourselves and others.

We live in a world where grace and redemptive suffering go hand in hand. The very bad thing that happened to Jesus on the cross opened the door to a very good thing happening to us – the forgiveness of our sins, our adoption into God’s family and the assurance of eternal life with God. Without Christ’s redemptive suffering on our behalf, there would be no salvation.

When as Christians we continue to suffer it is never as a punishment for our sins. Since all our sin was dealt with on the cross when Jesus bore there the punishment we deserved, there is now no punishment left for us to endure. The price has been fully paid, there is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. [Romans 8:1]

But there is much that we need to learn if we are to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. And so the Lord lovingly disciplines those he loves just as a Father disciplines his children. Sometimes the lessons will be painful, sometimes they will involve suffering. ‘For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’ [Hebrews 12:11]. If, as the writer of the letter to the Hebrews tells us, Jesus was made perfect through suffering [Hebrews 2:10], should we not be surprised when God sends suffering our way in order that we might be made more like Christ.

So, if we accept what Paul says when he writes that, for those who love God and are called according to his purpose, all things work together for good, we must conclude that even when seemingly bad things happen to us it is for our good too. But when bad things happen to us it can also be good for others too!

And so there is another reason why we sometimes suffer. Sometimes it is for the sake of the gospel. Remember Jesus’ words in our reading. ‘For whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it’. Such suffering, as Paul tells us in Colossians 1:24, is ‘filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church’. Paul is not suggesting here that Jesus’ death wasn’t fully sufficient for salvation but rather that further suffering will be required to bring the news of that salvation to those who do not yet know of it. Sometimes, therefore, our suffering is for the sake of others, the means by which grace comes to those who do not yet know the good news.

Paul doesn’t want to suffer for his sin, to do so would be to reject all that Jesus did for him at Calvary, but he does, I think, want to share in the sufferings of Christ and to be like him in his death, so that, as well as becoming more like Jesus, he might also be used by God to bring the gospel to others.

The question I must ask myself is do I really want to know such suffering too?

If we do suffer for the sake of the gospel, whether as a direct result of our witness or simply by testifying to the beauty of the gospel as we continue to hope in it even as we suffer, we can draw comfort from knowing that such suffering isn’t meaningless, that it has purpose, that it is good, not only for us but for others too. Furthermore, knowing that we have been considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the sake of the name of Jesus, we may even, like the disciples in Acts 5, find ourselves able to rejoice in our suffering even as that suffering will brings great sorrow too.

This isn’t to suggest that we should masochistically go in pursuit of suffering. Rather it is to suggest that there should be an acceptance that, when God lovingly sends suffering our way, that which we lose and which we are prone to value so highly is, in reality, often what Paul calls so much ‘garbage’. [Philippians 3:8]. Furthermore, we can take comfort that the suffering we do experience now is not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us [Romans 8:18], and that, however painful it genuinely is today, this light, momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison [2 Corinthians 4:17]. If we understand this we will, perhaps, be a little more like Jesus in his death, in the way we accept the suffering that God allows us to experience.

So then, sometimes at least, bad things happen to good people, so that good things can happen to bad people. Perhaps understanding this will help us to obey Jesus’ command to take up our cross and follow him.

Finally then, in the closing verse of our passage, Jesus says that whoever is ashamed of him and of his words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

That adulterous and sinful generation is the one we which we live, one that only wants God to the degree that he can give it what it wants, But if we have seen Jesus as he really is, if we have seen him, not only as the King, but as a King who willingly suffered for us, a King who bore our guilt and went to the cross for us, dying in our place to bring about our salvation we can be sure that we will not be ashamed of him or of his words. For how could we be ashamed of one as wonderful as he.

So let’s thank God for what we have seen of Jesus and pray that we would see him ever more clearly. Let’s declare our faith in Jesus. We believe but let us ask for his help in our disbelief. And let’s keep trusting him, believing the glorious truth that in him, though we die, yet shall we live.

Because to lose everything for Jesus ensures that we will gain all that we could ever possibly want. And to understand this will mean that, like the blind man in our passage, we will have seen, not in part, but in full, the dazzling beauty of the King who suffered and died for us.



Sunday  03/04/2022 – E.Pici

Mark 6:1-13

1 He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching. (Marc 6:1-6)

v. 1-6 Jesus rejected in his hometown

v. 1-4 Who does he think he is?

Difficulty of testifying about God to one’s own family and old friends.

When one becomes a Christian, one finds joy in God. The natural thing to do when you really enjoy something, is to praise it and share it with others. Therefore, the Christian loves to share his faith with those close to him. He does this because of uncontainable joy and pleasure, not just because God asked us to spread the Gospel. I come from a non-Christian family. It was very hard for me as a teenager to share my newfound faith in God with my family, because they thought I had joined a cult and was being manipulated. My parents didn’t understand, and they wanted to stop me from going to church, but I insisted and managed to get away with it in the end. It was very hard for me to share my faith with my parents because it sounded like things from a different planet to them. It was hard sharing my faith with my friends, because they had known me for a long time, and I was becoming someone new. The new me was someone they didn’t know and weren’t sure about. It sounded pretentious. When I read this part of the Gospel as a new Christian I was encouraged, because I saw that Jesus went through a similar experience with his own brothers and friends in his hometown. People wouldn’t accept him as a teacher and a healer, let alone as the Messiah, because to them he was just the local carpenter. 

Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe him.

20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mark 3:20-21)

However, later his brothers did believe in him and joined his disciples after his resurrection. 

14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. (Acts 1:14)

Why did his brothers not believe, and what made them change?

  • Growing up with a perfect brother, matchless in intellect, wisdom, and integrity.
  • His parents knew he was the son of God, therefore they inevitably treated him with greater respect.

James and Judas (Jesus’ brothers) wrote two of the books of the Bible. James was one of the most prominent leaders of the early church. His brothers put their faith in God and in Jesus as the Messiah, although probably not till after his crucifixion. 

Whoever does the will of God is part of Jesus’ family:

31 And his mother and his brothers came and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

If you’re a true Christian today, you’re part of Jesus’ family. He calls you brother/sister. No family relationship is more important than that. 

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37)

Jesus commands us that we have deeper affection for him than for anyone else in our life. He demands to be at the centre of our desires and affections. This is in line with God’s first commandment.

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Don’t be deceived in believing that you can be a Christian and have Jesus as an accessory to your lifestyle. It’s an all or nothing choice. Let us examine our heart regularly and ask God to give us deeper affections for him, for his justice, for his word, than for anything else in our life. It is only then that we will see and savour all things in this life in the right measure, and live a life that honours him, proving our faith is real and that we really know him.

Dishonoured prophets end up being put to death – John the Baptist’s execution comes next in the following verses (14-29). Jesus, the rejected and dishonoured Messiah, would also be put to death, at the time appointed by God. 

v. 5 “He could do no mighty work there”

Not because he wasn’t able to, but because he wasn’t received with need and with faith, like he was everywhere else he went. 

Jesus’ ability to perform miracles didn’t depend on people’s attitude towards him. He was God made man. However, the main reason why Jesus performed miracles, was to make people believe in God, as a witness to his divine identity. There have been false teachers in Christian churches who have led sick people to believe that their diseases or tragedies were a result of their sin and that the reason why they were not healed by God is because they didn’t have enough faith. Not only is that false, but it is wicked and devilish. We don’t cause miracles to happen, God does, when He sees it fit in his wisdom. When one becomes a Christian, a true Christian, God’s wrath is removed from that person and God works all things for their good. No disease, or tragedy, or any kind of loss to a Christian is ever God’s punishment on their sin. That’s Job’s friends’ wrong theology. God loves those who put their faith in him, and although his providence can at times be bitter, it’s always for the ultimate good of those who love him. 

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

v. 6 “He marvelled because of their unbelief”

I find this intriguing. Jesus is the son of God, part of the holy trinity, with perfect wisdom and divine authority, despite the physical limitations he put on himself becoming a man. The gospel says that he marvelled because of their unbelief. He certainly knew many wonderful things that we will never know in this life and had seen indescribable marvels with his eyes. He is the one that can speak to the wind and make storms cease in a moment. Yet, he marvels at unbelief. This is not a marvelling of awe in front of something exceptionally beautiful. This is a sorrowful, painful bewilderment in front of something deeply wrong, irrational, and wicked. It pained Jesus to see their unbelief, despite the clear evidence in front of their eyes of the Word of God made man, healing the sick, giving eyes to the blind, giving ears to the deaf, giving legs to the lame and paralysed.

We get some insight into Jesus’ heart for unbelievers in this passage: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37)

Jesus’ heart was full of compassion and love, even for those who hated him, even for those who killed him. 

Unbelief is at the centre of all sin. People sin because they don’t believe in God, or don’t believe in him enough. Faith is what God appreciates most in human beings. Faith is what is required to please God. 

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

It all started with Abel, who trusted God and was considered righteous because of it, and his sacrifice was acceptable to God, unlike that of his brother.

Abraham trusted God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. The whole chapter 11 of Hebrews gives a long list of people who trusted God and pleased him and were used by him to do great things for his kingdom. 

Unbelief lurks in the life of Christians too and it’s a common enemy that we must fight in order to survive in our fight of faith. The way in which we can fight unbelief is by holding on to God’s promises in his word. 

20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:20-24)

We often are just like that father. Wavering. Insecure. We need to pray like that father. Help my unbelief, God!! Help me to trust you more. Create in me desires and emotions that are appropriate to you. 

“He went about among the villages teaching”

Jesus didn’t stop because they didn’t respond to him, and he didn’t treat them better or worse than any of the other towns and villages. He kept preaching about God’s kingdom.

It can be very discouraging to see that despite our best efforts to show God’s love and grace to others, they still reject us and maybe even mock or persecute us. Don’t be discouraged, it happened to Jesus too, in a much greater way. Our calling is to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, at times using words, for all who have ears to hear. 

We see many examples of this in the book of Acts. Jesus’ disciples persevered in proclaiming the Gospel wherever the Spirit led them, at the cost of their life. 

Summary of practical applications of verses 1-6

  • Don’t give up on non-believing relatives/friends
    • If you are a Christian and have a non-believing relative, sibling or parent, don’t give up on them. Keep praying to God to open their eyes and change their heart. He can do that, and much more. 
  • Being a Christian is being part of Jesus’ family. 
    • He calls us brothers/sisters and friends. There is no higher privilege in the universe than being part of God’s people.
  • Jesus demands to have the central place in our life. 
    • He demands to be at the centre of our affections and at the source of all our choices. Let us pray to God continuously so that it would be so in our life, despite the world in which we live and its rebellion from God. 
  • Be humble when asking things from God
    • We need to be humble when we ask things from God, accepting our limitations of not being able to see the big picture of God’s design, while remembering God’s promise that all things work for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his design.
  • Unbelief is at the centre of sin, and we need to fight it 
  • By holding on to God’s promises in his word, while depending on him daily to provide us with strength in that fight.
  • Don’t get tired of doing good Persevere in being good witnesses of God’s grace and preach the Gospel with our lives more than with our words.

v. 7-13 Jesus sends out the 12

And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. (Marc 6:7-13)

v. 7 Jesus gave his disciples divine authority over demons

Jesus’ work was in direct clash with the work of the devil. His ability to cast out demons was a vivid demonstration of his power to deliver people from the power of darkness into a new life. 

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Judas Iscariot was among the 12. He too received this authority, and very probably cast out demons in Jesus’ name, yet he was a child of hell. 

What we do for God (allegedly) doesn’t necessarily reflect our position in front of God. God doesn’t need our help with anything. We depend totally on him. Whenever we accomplish anything good, it’s by his grace alone. 

He sent them 2 by 2  So they wouldn’t be alone and would encourage each-other. (This is not just a wedding verse)

“A cord of 3 strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

So that their witness would be legally valid according to God’s law: 

15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)

God is the righteous judge. He commanded that there be at least two witnesses before a charge could be established. The charge against those who rejected Jesus’ message remains. 

v. 8-10 Jesus charged his disciples to travel light

The villages in which they would go would host them and provide food and shelter for them. They would have to rely on God to provide hospitality for them. It was a lesson of dependency upon God in ministry. 

Hospitality is a central part of eastern cultures. The villages and towns would be compelled to make a stand for or against Jesus. As we saw in the earlier verses, Jesus brings division in society.

v. 11 Shake off the dust from your feet

The dust on their feet was a sign that they were obedient to God to go where He had called them and proclaim the Gospel. God will judge people based on what they know.

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24)

Tyre and Sidon were great Philistine towns about which many prophets in the Old Testament prophesied (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos, etc) of their coming destruction, which came to effect during the Babylonian invasion of the area.

The apostle Paul in Romans 1 says that no one can present any excuse to God in justification for not knowing him as Lord.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

God can be known through what he has created, not only through preaching. Nobody can, therefore, present any excuse in front of God facing his judgement.

v. 12 People should repent

The Gospel hasn’t changed. People should repent and turn to God to be saved.

Repentance is a work of the Holy Spirit in people’s life. When we preach the Gospel today, we should urge people to repent and turn to God. Instead, in many cases the Gospel is watered down and stripped of any connotations of judgement, wrath and God’s justice. Jesus was never evasive about the reality of sin and its deadly consequences. However, many professing Christians seem to not be so sure that sin leads to death and think of Christianity in terms of a ticket out of hell which has little if any impact in daily life and priorities. That is not Jesus’ teaching. Let’s go back to the Gospel and read the Sermon on the Mount and plead with God on a daily basis to give us godly desires and help us to live a life that honours him, because that’s what Christians do. 

God is very serious about sin. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have sent Jesus to die a criminal’s death on a cross in our place. Jesus died so that God’s perfect justice would remain when he welcomes undeserving sinners like us in his Kingdom. O praise God for his love and mercy!

v. 13 They cast out demons and healed the sick

The authority that Jesus gave his disciples was real and it worked just like he said.

Summary of practical applications of verses 7-13

  • What we do for God doesn’t necessarily reflect our heart towards God. 
    • How we do what we do (with what heart) is what matters the most.
  • Ministry for God calls for good partnerships. 
    • It’s never a good idea to do it alone. Jesus’ didn’t recommend it and his disciples followed his advice.
  • Ministry for God calls for stronger faith in God 
    • Dependency on him to provide for material needs. 
  • Jesus’ message brings division. 
    • We need to embrace this instead of fearing it. 
  • Consider it a privilege to be used by God to proclaim his Gospel. 
    • In so doing, we will be accomplishing Jesus’ great commission to make disciples.
  • When preaching the Gospel let’s urge people to repent.
    • When preaching the Gospel, let’s not be afraid to talk about God’s perfect justice, God’s hatred of sin and the pending punishment on this world, while urging people to repent so they can be saved from that punishment. If we talk only about love and acceptance, we paint a false picture of what it truly means to be a Christian. 
  • Let us plead with God daily to help us live a life that honours him.

* All the Bible quotes are taken from the ESV.


Sunday 13th March 2022 Speaker: Derek Cleave

TWO KINGDOMS.                                                      Hebrews 12: 18 29. ESV

There is a word (and its extensions) that occurs several times in the passage. It’s the word ‘shake’ or ‘shaken’ or ‘shook’.

Those words certainly describe the environment we are living in. Politically, economically the current state of affairs is affecting the lives of all of us. Moral and spiritual values have been badly shaken; there is a tremendous increase in immorality and the breakdown in family life.

Internationally we feel that the world is a more dangerous place than many of us can remember in our lifetime.

Yes, we live in a very insecure environment - an unstable world. And all of this though it saddens us - should not surprise us because we live in a sinful world.

We should not forget that even in and through the shaking of our world – God speaks to the nations.

How thankful we should be that by the grace of God there are two sides to the picture. The writer also speaks of things that cannot be shaken (v28) – things that will remain and those things that remain are those things that belong to the kingdom of God.

So there is the contrast of things that will be shaken and removed and things that will not be shaken.


We have all have walked into a scene of apparent chaos and wondered, even if we haven’t asked - ‘Is anyone in charge here?’

Wouldn’t the state of the world today prompt that kind of response from some people? If there is a God - where is he in all of this?

But notwithstanding what we see happening around us, the Bible assures us that God is still on the throne.

Often, when the word ‘throne’ is used in the Bible, it is a metaphor for power and authority.  When John wrote of seeing ‘a throne’ in heaven (Revelation 4) he is referring to government - the government of God. The throne of God cannot be shaken.

The Psalmist says ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever’ 45:6. Here the Bible is telling us that Gods reign or rule ‘will last forever.’

Our Queen will eventually have to forfeit her throne but Jesus is God, and therefore eternal, so his reign is eternal.  He will have no successor, he will not die; nor can his government be subverted or taken out of his hands, nor can he be removed from his throne by any of his enemies. God is eternal and unchangeable. Nothing can shake or move him.

What a tremendous encouragement to every child of God to know that when everything else is shaking, the throne of God remains secure.

In the 6th Century BC Nebuchadnezzar king of the Babylonians and the most powerful man in the world, was walking on the roof of his palace and he said - ‘Is not this great Babylon which I have built by my mighty power…and for the glory of my majesty?’ Daniel 4:30

‘While the words were still in the king’s mouth’ God dealt with his arrogance and he became like an animal eating grass in a field. That period of insanity lasted for seven years until Nebuchadnezzar was restored. Then ‘I…blessed the Most High’ he said – ‘I praised and honoured him who lives forever  for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”’ Dan 4:34.

Whatever circumstances may surround you - remind yourself of Dan 4:34. ‘His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.’

We believe that God is Sovereign and in control of all events in his Universe. It’s sometimes hard to believe that when the evidence around us seems to suggest otherwise.  But we can believe it because…. secondly -


This for the believer is the bottom line. If Christians don’t believe the Word of God, then we have no reason to hope.

And why should we believe the Word of God? Peter refers to ‘the living and abiding word of God’ and of the fact that ‘the word of the Lord remains for ever.’ 1 Peter 1: 23 25. As with his throne, the Word of God is enduring and eternal. 

When you and I take our Bible in our hands we can say at least two things:

(i) The Bible’s promises cannot be shaken. It’s been estimated that there are 30,000 promises in the Bible. There are promises for every child of God and for every situation and circumstance of life and these all became ours when we put our faith in Christ. 

The Apostle Paul says of God’s promises ‘For all the promises of God find their "Yes” in Christ’ 2 Cor 1:20. What does he mean by this? He means they are certain to be fulfilled.

The Bible tells us ‘God is not a man that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?’ Numbers 23:19.

There are promises in the Bible that relate to the pardon of sin to those who are repentant; there are promises of support in temptation and trial; promises of guidance in perplexity; promises of peace in death, and of eternal glory beyond the grave. All of these are the promises of God, and none of them will fail! The Bible’s promises cannot be shaken. Then we can trust the Word of God because -

(ii) The Bible’s power cannot be shaken. Writing to the Romans Paul said ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’ Romans 1: 16.

The Jews had cast Paul off, and regarded him as an apostate; and by the so-called wise among the Gentiles he had been persecuted, and despised, and regarded as ‘the scum of the world’, and ‘the refuse of all things’ he tells us (1Co 4:13) but still he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

He had such a firm conviction of its value and its truth; he had experienced so much of its comfort, and had seen so much evidence of its power, that he was so far from being ashamed of it that he gloried in it as the power of God unto salvation.

When Paul says that he is not telling us primarily that the gospel is a message about God’s power, but rather that the gospel is itself that power. So because it’s God’s power operating through his Word, the true gospel can never be nullified.

The lack of power we bemoan in today’s church may be directly attributable in many situations, to our lack of confidence in the biblical gospel and I must add the believer’s reluctance to obey that gospel!

Christians speak much of believing the Bible but to validate that belief we must act on what we say we believe – we must do what the Bible tells us to do. Belief in biblical terms is more than intellectual assent. True belief always produces the appropriate action. Then those around us will be more disposed to believe what we say. One cynic said ‘If Christians lived more redeemed lives I might be more inclined to believe in their redeemer.’

So we can be reassured because the throne of God cannot be shaken and the Word of God cannot be shaken because of its power and its promises.


 The words of our Lord recorded in Matthew 16:18 remind us of this.

Jesus has asked the disciples who they believed him to be and Peter has jumped in and stated – ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God.’  Jesus now addresses Peter ‘I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’

In this amazing statement the Saviour was assuring his disciples, and us, that the Church is safe because it’s built on a solid foundation - ultimately that of his person and his work. The foundation of the church is Christ. Paul tells us ‘No one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 3: 11. 

It means that no true church – in the Bibles understanding of that term, and that does not mean buildings! – no true church can be built which does not embrace and hold to the true doctrines concerning Christ.

Isn’t that what Peter acknowledged in his declaration ‘You are the Christ the Son of the living God’ and Jesus responds ‘Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah!...on this rock I will build my church.’

The fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion must be believed, or a church cannot exist; and where those doctrines have been removed, no association of men and women can be recognised as a church of God.

But the True Church of Jesus Christ i.e. all those who have put their trust in him as the Head of the church will never be shaken.

Notice that in his conversation with Peter, Jesus refers to the ‘gates’ of hell being unable to overcome the church?? Why gates of hell? Gates are defensive not offensive, so what do we understand by ‘the gates of hell’?

Ancient cities were surrounded by walls. In the gates, through which those cities were entered, were the principal places for holding courts, transacting business, and deliberating on public matters. The word gates, therefore, isn’t a reference so much to physical gates but is used for counsels, or designs. And so the meaning of the passage is that all the counsels and designs, all the plots and strategies of the enemies of the church will not be able to overcome Christ’s church -- a promise that has been wonderfully fulfilled - from the time of Roman Emperors to the present day.

Are you a member of the True Church? To be merely a professing Christian won’t save you. You must be a possessing Christian. You must have Christ as your Saviour. If you do, you know that the Lord Jesus will never have to say to you, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness" Matthew 7:23. Imagine being told by Christ that there never was any kind of relationship with him! Perhaps the question we should ask is not – ‘Do I know Christ?’ rather ‘Does he know me?’ To avoid that possibility your only hope is to trust him as Saviour.

The throne of God cannot be shaken, the Word of God cannot be shaken and the church of God cannot be shaken -


Listen to Jesus the good Shepherd, ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.’ John 10: 27 29. That’s his promise.

Paul wrote ‘for I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ Romans 8: 38 39.

Or Paul again - ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me’ 2 Timothy 1: 12.

The hymn writer sums up these assurances in these words:

"The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose, he will not   he will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all Hell should endeavour to shake; he'll never, no never, no never forsake! " The child of God is as safe as it’s possible to be.

So a Christian can rejoice that in a world that is being shaken there are those things that cannot be shaken. The throne of God; the Word of God; the Church of God and the child of God.

In this passage the author of this letter is writing to Jews who had once belonged to an earthly kingdom, but it was a kingdom that would not be perpetuated.

Many of them are now Hebrew Christians. Now they belong to a kingdom that is permanent and unchanging. The kingdom of Christ will never pass away. It is not, like the Jewish dispensation, to give place to another, nor is there any power that can destroy it. So says the writer Heb 12:28 ‘Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.’

Our gratitude to God in belonging to such a kingdom will produce more than verbal thanks. It will inspire worship – true worship. Real worship is more than what fills an hour on a Sunday! True worship always results in obedient service.

Paul urges the Christians in Rome - ‘by the mercies of God ... present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’  Rom 12:1

That is the kind of worship the writer is calling for here. Whatever our earthly circumstances might prove to be we are reminded that as Christians we belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken and so we should be thankful and render to God willing and obedient service – i.e. spiritual worship.

So what of the other side of the coin? The writer has a powerful word to those who aren’t willing to give that obedient service – because they don’t belong to that kingdom.

Throughout this epistle the writer has been warning Hebrews not to neglect the salvation found in Christ; not to go back to their old Jewish traditions.

We need to reach back into this chapter and look at two mountains – Sinai and Zion. This is very significant!

Verses 18-21 refer to Sinai (the mountain that can be touched – a physical mountain) where God gave the law to Moses – the law that man, because of his sinful nature, would find it impossible to keep.

The writer uses this event from their history to remind them of the terror of being under the law. Verses 18-21. ‘You have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear."

This mountain is Sinai and at Sinai you see God in outward demonstration of infinite holiness, infinite justice, severity, and terrifying majesty.  And you see at the foot of that mountain - man trembling in his sin, in his misery, and in his guilt, and in his fear of death.  That is Sinai - a guilty, vile sinner trembling at the feet of a mighty, awesome, terrifying God. This mountain meant death because no one could come to God by way of the law. 

Notice what Moses felt when he stood at the foot of Sinai.  Verse 21 - ‘So terrifying was the sight that Moses said “I tremble with fear.”’

This was a man who had seen the burning bush. This was the man that had stood up to Pharaoh, but at the foot of Sinai even he was terrified. 

Why?  It doesn’t matter who you are, when you stand before the face of the terrifying judgment of God, you have no alternative but to be afraid.

God's going to judge every man and woman on one of two bases - on the basis of the gospel, or on the basis of law.  On the one hand, if you have come to Jesus Christ and you belong to his kingdom, you will be judged on the basis of the gospel.  But if you have rejected Jesus Christ, you will be judged on the basis of the law. 

God has two sets of books.  One is called the Lamb's Book of Life.  If your name is written there, you have come to Christ.  If your name is not written there, all the deeds of your life are written in what the Bible calls the other books (Rev 20:12).

And were you to come to the Great White Throne of God’s judgment, God would not arbitrarily say, "You are sent to hell because of your rejection of Christ."  The Bible says in Revelation he will judge you out of those books.  In other words, he will examine the books to see whether you kept his law perfectly. 

So is there the possibility that a person could keep the law?  No.  Rom 3:20 ‘For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight.’

It is impossible for any man or woman to be saved by the law because we can’t keep it.  If an individual has not kept in its entirety the law of God they are damned. And no one will claim that an injustice has been served!

Just to press this home do you remember when Jesus responded to a question as to what was the greatest commandment he replied ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment’ Matt 22:37.

Have you kept the FIRST and GREATEST commandment? I haven’t and I venture to suggest – nor have you!

So the writer is warning these Hebrew Christians of the danger of going back to the law because he tells them (verse 22) ‘You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.’  gg

If Sinai spoke of law then Mt Zion speaks of grace.

And look at what you find there – 22b-24. ‘You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.’

This is the choice before each one of us.  You come to Sinai or you come to Zion.  You are either going to face God in the blackness and terror of Sinai, with only your works, and they'll be consumed with you - or you come to God at Zion, pleading the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and there you find grace, and you find peace and safety and you find the presence of a loving God, and you find Jesus Christ, and you find full forgiveness.

And in a final warning the writer says - verse 25 ‘See that you do not refuse him who is speaking … for (verse 29) our God is a consuming fire.’

Here is the reason why we should worship in reverence and awe. Yes, he is ‘our God’ – in a loving covenant relationship, but he is ‘a consuming fire’!

Love and fear together will preserve good spiritual health.

Which kingdom do you belong to? A kingdom that is shaking and will one day be destroyed or a kingdom that will remain for ever. Christians can be encouraged that they belong to a kingdom that cannot be shaken – not because of any personal merit but by the abundant grace of God.


Edington Chapel Sunday Feb 13th 2022        Rev. 3:14 – 20

Speaker: Crawford Telfer

“Behold I stand at the door and knock . . . .

QUEEN’S GARDEN PARTIES                     4 times a year the Queen hosts a garden party for 30,000 people. 3 at Buck Palace, 1 at Holyrood.  It lasts 3 hours and it’s Her Majesty’s ‘thank-you’ to those who have been judged worthy of such an honour. You have to have earned your place and the chance to actually meet the Queen.

GOD’S ETERNAL PARTY                        But our text this morning tells us of another kingdom, infinitely greater, where the Sovereign meets everyone who wants to meet him – and here’s the great thing – they don’t have to have done anything to have earned it. It’s a free gift.  And the party doesn’t last for a mere 3 hours, but for all eternity.

Let me read to you the invitation – from the King of Kings and Lord of Lords - Jesus!         Here I am! He says - I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

NOT SALVATION – FELLOWSHIP                How many times have we read it and said to ourselves – oh yes, that’s a great verse for the unsaved – maybe you’ve heard it used in that way, as an invitation to receive Jesus into your life and be saved. And how many times we’ve been wrong because it has nothing to do with the unsaved or with salvation.  When you read the verse in its context you see clearly that Jesus was not speaking to unbelievers, but to those who already believed.                      

JESUS WANTS TO BE WITH ME ?        And what is both shocking and wonderful is the kind of Christians he is saying it to!   Listen to this . . . .  READ Rev 3: 15-23 

Did you notice the people Jesus was specifically wanting to be with: Christians that were apathetic, smug, self satisfied, devoid of any real love for the Lord – to such an extent that they were making Him want to vomit ….!!           

Yet here is His amazing grace in that he cares for them and desires them so much that he is ready to correct and discipline them,    NOT in anger or revenge, but as v19 tells us:  

                Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.

Now for you and me living in the 21st century, the idea of ‘loving discipline’ has been rejected.  The idea now is that:      ‘if you love me, you will give me what I want’.

So today we have a generation of parents who no longer have control over their children because they have not taken the time to discipline them.   Hebrews puts it very clearly in Heb 12:6: The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.       And Heb 12:10 but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.

INCREDIBLE GRACE !               But there’s more than that, because Jesus then writes to those Laodicean Christians who are making him want to vomit, saying that he wants to be WITH THEM!    He wants their fellowship,     He wants to have a deep relationship with them!!                    

WHAT GREAT COMFORT, ASSURANCE                I find this incredibly comforting and assuring. Are there not times in our own lives when we feel we’ve let the Lord down – that he must surely be disappointed with us.                                         

 Our love for him is up and down like a yo yo.   There are times we don’t really care for the things of God.   We get caught up in having nice stuff, on being successful in business, impressing the neighbours.

We go chasing after emptiness and neglect the only One who can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.   As Isaiah 55:2  says we ‘ . .spend our money for what is not bread, and our wages for what does not satisfy . .’

YET here is the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus, in that he doesn’t cast us off.  He doesn’t spew us out of his mouth.                 As He says in John 6:37 . . whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

JESUS’ UNREQUITED LOVE            There’s nothing we can do which will make Jesus stop loving us.    It may seem a strange thing to say – but He knows all about the agony of unrequited love.   Listen to his heart rending cry as he looks out over the city which was turning against him in anger and hate:  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing         Luke 13:34                                                                  

He’s not angry – he’s heart broken. And so it is with those Laodicean Christians who had lost their love for him. . . . .          . . . .He had not lost his love for them. He wanted to help them find it again, he wanted to help them re-ignite the passion they once had for him. And if we’re honest we sometimes need him to come and help us re-ignite our love, our passion for him. So when he comes knocking at the door of our hearts,  it’s with this intense longing that we open the door and welcome him in.

WILL WE HEAR HIM KNOCKING?                The thing is do we hear his knocking, do we hear his voice, because His knocking is soft. It’s not a loud insistent hammering on the door like the Gestapo in one of those war films – neither is his voice a commanding bellow like an angry sergeant major.         

It’s a still, small voice and how often we miss it – because the ‘TV’ in our lives, the busyness, the distractions, drown it out. But there are times when God in his great mercy allows circumstances which quieten us down – when plans are disrupted, sickness lays us low, we have to isolate, and we find ourselves having to be still – and it’s in these times that we hear that gentle knocking, that still, small voice of God.

WILL WE LET HIM IN?          But then when we hear his voice, how do we respond?             When the One who created everything that exists comes knocking at our door, this Jesus, are we willing to open it? Do we let him in?  Ah, that depends on how we see him, what we think of him. 

WHO IS AT THE DOOR?          We all know what it’s like when someone turns up at our front door – and we groan – oh no, not him, not her again – and you’re reluctant to let them in because they are so unpleasant, always complaining, always gossiping, always wanting something, only ever talking about themselves.             

But then there are others and as soon as you see them coming you throw the door wide open, ‘come in – take your coat off, have a seat, I’ll put the kettle on’ and you know your going to have a great hour or so with your welcome visitor. But what of Jesus . . . ? Surely to hear his voice is the greatest thing. 

THE SOUND OF HIS VOICE          I always think of Mary on that resurrection morning when she goes to the tomb and the body of Jesus has gone, and she’s standing there weeping in utter desolation,  and she turns to Jesus thinking he’s the gardener and she asks him where they have put his body – and then Jesus says ‘Mary’, and instantly she knows his voice and says to him ‘Rabboni’ – which means teacher. When we hear his voice, we know – we just know it’s him. It’s the voice of pure love and acceptance. The strange thing is even when it’s a warning, a rebuke, something that convicts us of our sin – even then, there is such love in it that it drives out all fear and all guilt and all condemnation. So when He comes to us and says - Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.  How can we refuse?

EATING TOGETHER                 And when we open the door and welcome Him in – we eat together!  Have you noticed how much eating there is in the Bible?  In that culture sharing a meal had much deeper significance than it does for us.

To start with, you didn’t sit round a table, you reclined and ate from common bowls. It was an outward expression of acceptance, of unity, of being loved. Think of the numerous meals Jesus had – to such an extent that he was accused of being a drunkard and glutton. Jesus loved a good party! 

But eating together is also a vivid picture of the depth of fellowship Jesus wants to have with us. In fact this is at the very core of our experience as Christians. It’s not about knowing things about God, but knowing him as an intimate friend. 

DRAW NEAR TO GOD . . .                    James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you . . . .

He will draw near to us in our pains and in our sorrows, in our joys and celebrations.

He will be with us in our loss and loneliness.

He will stay with us when we are walking in darkness and don’t know which way to turn.

He will take our hand when we go through the flood and through the fire.

He will come to us and lift us out of the muck of our sin, and wash us in his blood and cleanse us by his word.


Not only that but it’s as we spend time in His presence we are more likely to hear is voice.

* Are you lacking direction in your life? 

* Are you asking ‘what does the Lord want me to do?’ 

* How does He want me to serve him? 

* What does God want for Edington Chapel?

You will most likely find out as you make time in your busy lives just to be with Jesus – not with any particular agenda except to draw near to Him.

I wan’t to finish with the story of someone who did just that – which shows what I mean . . . .

Story of David Wilkerson. Pastor in rural church in Pennsylvania. Gave up watching TV to spend time with God . . . He saw in Time Life magazine drawings of teenagers in New York court accused of murder. Filled with compassion, he knew God was calling him to go and work among the drug gangs of New York..

That’s how Teen Challenge was begun -  in 1958. (the film ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’ tells the story. Today ‘Teen Challenge is in 1000 locations worldwide.

Give time to God – and discover what He will do.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come and and eat with them and they with me.


Sunday 6th February 2022. Speaker: David Willis   Mark4: 21-33

Three Parables -Shining and Growing

Aim: To show Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God from these three parables. To understand and consider what message there is for us today.

Children’s Talk – Pictures of ears – cat, giraffe, elephant, goat, cow, the Queen, Me, Harry Kane, Boris Johnson. Can you tell what animal or person these ears belong to? We all have ears – what do we have them for? To hang our glasses on? No! They’re so that we can hear.

Listening is important. If we don’t listen properly, we could miss out on some important information. Jesus often said it was a good idea for people to listen. He said, ‘whoever has ears, let them hear’.

What did he mean? If you’ve got ears use them. Don’t ignore what is being said. Don’t pretend you didn’t hear. Use them for what they’re intended.

Jesus told people that listened to him the best way to live, also how to come to know God, and be forgiven for all the bad things we do.

We can’t hear Jesus in quite the same way today, but we still have his words written downand people to explain them to us. How can we listen to what God has to say to us? Through the Bible and people explaining it to us. Through praying.


I love the way Sinclair Ferguson says that ‘the parables of Jesus were like missiles launched against the kingdom of darkness in people’s hearts’. ‘They were timed to destroy the self-confidence of men and women, and to overcome all opposition to their conversion to Christ. They were calculated to bring people to a point of decision. That is why their central theme is the way in which the Kingdom of God is established in the world’.

The three parables before us today are more word pictures and wise sayings, rather than a story or illustration like the Sower, or farmer, and the different kinds of soils in 1-20. They are all linked by the theme of the Kingdom of God and being part of it.

We’re going to lift a couple of verses out of order before we look at the main teaching of the three parables.

Listen and Consider 24,25

As we’ve already seen with the talk for the youngsters Jesus was insistent that people should listen carefully to what he was teaching and to think about it closely.

Listening according to what Jesus is telling us is more than just about hearing, it’s also about acting on what you’ve heard. ‘Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says’ James 1:22.

Another little saying here, ‘With the measure you use, it will be measured to you – and even more’. Surely this is teaching that you’ll get out what you put in. No effort, no gain! Much effort, much gain! Not only that but ‘whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken away from them’. The sooner we grasp the mystery of the Kingdom of God, the sooner we will appreciate it and grow in it, receiving and benefitting from the blessings of it. But Jesus’ main point here is about uncovering the hidden secrets of the Kingdom of God.

A Lamp on a Stand 21-23

It seems like a very silly suggestion to ask whether you bring in a lamp and put it under a bowl or under the bed. The idea probably brought a smile to the lips of the people listening to Jesus, because it was so ridiculous.

Lamps in New Testament times were apparently small clay lamps (picture?) that burned olive oil that was drawn up by a wick. If you put it under a bowl or a bed it would not get any oxygen and would be snuffed out, it would not do the job it was intended to do.

The whole point of a lamp (picture) is that it gives light and shines, it uncovers what was hidden by darkness. If you want a light to be effective, for it ‘to do what it says on the tin’, you put it on a stand. A lighthouse (picture) is always positioned where sailors and seafarers can see it – you don’t put it behind a cliff that juts out, you put it in the best position so those who need it can be kept safe from danger.

What is Jesus getting at in this parable? He’s presenting the contrast between the fact of the Kingdom of God being hidden or concealed, and the manifestation of it when the full purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world would be revealed.

I love doing jigsaws, particularly in the winter. But when you start you just have a pile of different pieces (picture) that don’t make any sense, you can’t tell what the picture is from the pile of pieces. I recently decided to do a puzzle of Padstow Harbour without looking at the picture on the box. When all the pieces were put in the right place a beautiful picture was revealed (picture). Sometimes on Question of Sport they play a game whereby when you answer a question correctly you get a piece of a picture of a famous sports person. With each correct answer, you get another piece of the puzzle. until you can guess who the picture is of. Each piece helps to reveal the secret. But you have to work at it, it doesn’t come without a bit of effort.

Jesus revealed the secret of who he was and the secret of the Kingdom of God bit by bit as he lived out God’s will on earth, resulting in his death and resurrection which fully explained his purpose for coming into the world and God’s wonderful plan of salvation for all who would believe. To understand that needs effort – listening, hearing, putting all of the pieces together until we see the full picture, until we come into the light!

Jesus referred to himself as ‘the light of the World’ on more than one occasion. In John 1 we’re introduced to Him as the Word become flesh, but also as ‘the light of men’ 4, and ‘the true light’ 9. In John 8:12 Jesus clearly reveals himself by saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’. Then in John 9 as he tackles the issue of spiritual blindness by healing the man born blind, he says, ‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world’.

So, Jesus came to be revealed and to reveal God to a dark world. The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin, the light of the world is Jesus. God’s kingdom introduces light into a dark world and every new believer pushes back the darkness, so God’s glory will be revealed. It is little wonder that one of the features of heaven is that all will be light, darkness will not get a look in!

The Growing Seed 26-29

This parable is only to be found in Mark’s Gospel.

Jesus says, ‘this is what the kingdom of God is like’

The mysterious power of the seed. We put it in the ground but its growth doesn’t depend on what the farmer or gardener does, apart from preparing the ground, watering etc. The actual seed grows whether we are awake or asleep, whether we sit and watch, waiting for it to sprout, or whether we go off and leave it. The power is inside the seed somehow. We might not understand how it works, but it does.

Jesus is teaching that the gospel message, the seed of God’s word has its own power. Once the seed has been sown in someone’s heart and mind, it can grow but there’s nothing we can do about it. It is a work of God by the Holy Spirit. Remembering of course, the person whose heart and mind it has been sown in, can stop it growing by their attitude to God. God never forces himself upon us.

The proper course of action for the seed is described, bringing it to harvest, which was the reason it was planted in the first place. That is God’s purpose for a seed to be planted in someone’s heart and mind, for it to be brought to harvest. In other words, for the person to come to know and trust Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

All the seeds being harvested together make up the kingdom of God, his church, his people.

The Mustard Seed 30-34

Jesus says, this is what the kingdom of God is like.

A mustard seed – probably not the smallest seed today, but one of the smallest seeds used by farmers in Jesus’ time. The point being that such a small insignificant seed can produce such an impressive looking tree or bush. From small beginnings!

It was small enough for a bird to swallow, but equally it grew to such a great height that birds could perch in its branches and find shade under its branches.

Jesus and his disciples may not have seemed very significant in first century Galilee, but from this small seed grew the Kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus was despised and rejected of men. His own people did not receive him. His disciples after his resurrection were ridiculed, persecuted, and put down. Yet from this beginning grew the Church of Christ, numbers millions of millions down through the ages.

A day is coming when all the world will recognise what has come from this small insignificant seed, the true greatness and power of the Gospel of Jesus, the true greatness and power of the Kingdom of God. The day is coming, as we know, when every knee will fall at the name of Jesus (Philippians 2), everyone will recognise him for who he truly is, and he will take his rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!


How do these three parables speak to us today?

What can we take away with us today?

Jesus came to reveal the mystery of God’s salvation to the world. We can all know that salvation when we allow that light to come into our lives to drive out the darkness of sin. As servants of Jesus, we can shine today, to draw others to the light of the gospel that they too might become part of God’s kingdom and enjoy the benefits of living in his glorious light, rather than in the darkness and despair of sin.

The Kingdom of God is like a seed that falls into the ground and does it’s work unseen, we may not understand the science of it, but it still grows. We may not always see or understand how God is working, the ways of Christ, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on. We can be confident that the powerful seed of God’s word is being sown and that it will bear fruit. There will be a harvest, which is a figure for the consummation, the completion, of God’s kingdom.

The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. As part of that Kingdom, we might seem small and insignificant, but God can use us to his glory. We must never underestimate what God can do, even with the apparently small and insignificant

, for when we’re in his hands what he can achieve is beyond anything we can ever dream of.

Final Song – Hear the call of the kingdom  


Sunday 23rd January 2022 Speaker: David Herring   Mark 4 v 1 – 20


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These are brief notes on this passage, following a study shared at Edington Chapel on 23 January 2022. This is such a familiar story that it would be easy to pass over the passage quickly, thinking that the details and application are too well-known for any detailed exposition. However, there are three points we can make today that may be less obvious, but equally important.

v 1 – 8 The story itself

This story was told by Jesus in the open-air, by the Lake of Galilee. He was just a few yards out on the water, sitting in a boat, while the crowd was sitting or standing in the countryside rising up from the water’s edge. He is describing a sight that would be very familiar to the people and might have been even happening right there somewhere nearby in view of everyone. The story is a classic example of the manner Jesus used when teaching the mixed crowds of people – very simple, visual and descriptive. Such an approach is a hallmark of great communication. By the words being visual and familiar to the hearers, they were immediately drawn into what was being said and would have easily related to the message, more easily grasping its meaning. Sometimes in our teaching and explanations to ordinary people we can become very technical, using language that we understand but they may not, and maybe talking about hard-to-grasp concepts of the Gospel. Jesus did use more theological language with the scribes and teachers of the law, but even they professed not to understand (e.g. Nicodemus – John 3 v 10), and the Lord eventually ceased engaging with them, using parables more and more. The lesson here is that in our dealings with ordinary people around us we must be very relevant, simple and understandable to them, according to their everyday lives and experiences.

v 9 – 12 Conditions for understanding

The comment made by Jesus in verse 9 is very common in scripture, even found in each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. He went on to say that they, his disciples, were to learn the deeper truths behind the parables, but He then quoted Isaiah 6 v 9 – 10, a passage which has given rise to a lot of uncertain concern. Together, these words of Jesus illustrate a very deep and important truth. As our Father, God’s dealing with humanity is not on the basis of dogmatic dictatorship, but on the basis of accepting our freedom of choice – freewill in other words. He did not pre-programme us to love and obey him like robots, but as in any family when the children have grown up, He wants us to have a relationship of faith and trust in Him on the basis of our choosing to do so. Love is the hallmark of the family of which God is the heavenly Father. The issue Jesus faced at root (and still does) was not unbelief, but unwillingness to even listen and seeking to understand. Those who had ears to hear were those who were open to the truth. He didn’t want people claiming to follow Him for the wrong reasons, thinking they were forgiven when he will have to say one day: “Depart, I never knew you”. The Bible is continually warning against hypocrisy, and in matters of faith this has been the curse in all eras – look at Isaiah chapter one, for example. The disciples (with the possible exception of Judas) had each chosen to follow Jesus. But sadly the history of the Church is full of examples of people falsely claiming to be followers of Christ, doing so for the wrong reasons and in the wrong way, without truly being born again.

v 13 – 20 The importance of the seed

When dealing with this story much attention is usually placed on the various places where the seed ends up, and what happens in those places. However, it may be good today to just consider the seed itself – verse 14 shows it is the Word. There is no suggestion by Jesus that the farmer has misused the seed; Jesus does not in any way criticise him for allowing the seed to end up in these less promising locations. Therefore the lesson for us is to spread the seed whenever and wherever there is an opportunity to do so. Following the analogy of this parable, we are not to know whether people with whom we share the Word of God are likely to be genuine and lasting seekers or not, or whether they will prove to be good ground and produce fruitful Christian lives. Our task is to preach the Gospel; it is God in His foreknowledge who knows the outcome.


Sunday 2 January 10.45am - Luke 2:8-20.  Speaker: Bert Weenink

INTRO: Here we are at the beginning of another year. Most people I speak to, feel a little bit less confident, a bit more unsure of what the future holds, realising just a little bit more that we are not in control of events, we actually never were in control in the first place.

Ill: Supermarket adventures

There are lessons we can learn from Mary in the aftermath of the birth of Jesus.

The verse I want to draw your attention to in particular is Luke 2:19. As a result of the visit of the shepherds, we read that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Remember that at this time Mary would not have been much older than 17 or 18 and yet she displays a wonderful spiritual maturity. Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Oh, how wonderful to consider the heart of any mother and of this mother in particular, hearts full of treasures, referring not just to the good things, but to everything, the ups and downs, the tears and laughter, the sadness and joy and the fear and hope.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by;
yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Let’s look at life through Mary’s eyes:

Just a little over 9 months ago there was the visit of angel:

  • The Lord is with you
  • You will give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus. 
  • He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High… his kingdom will never end.’
  • The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. WOW!

She also remembered the words of her elderly relative Elizabeth, who was expecting a miracle baby herself and as Mary went to visit her, Elizabeth said: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? A very special baby and a very special blessing.

But the birth of this special baby had been traumatic. You see, not long before Jesus was to be born, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world, which meant that Joseph and Mary had to travel all the way down to Bethlehem. It seemed so wrong to make that journey, just before the birth of her special baby.

Ill: Our daughter-in-law, flying to Oz being 7 months pregnant – the absolute limit!

It was so much worse for Mary – one writer says: “It would have been a fairly gruelling 90-mile trip, as in those days, the most we find people traveling is 20 miles a day. And this trip was very much uphill and downhill. It was not simple.” The writer estimated that Joseph and Mary likely would have travelled only 10 miles a day because of Mary’s impending delivery.

When arriving in Bethlehem things did not get any better as we read earlier: Not long after they arrived, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Sorry, did you just say ‘manger’?)

A miracle baby, announced by God’s angel 9 months earlier but planned by God from before the creation of the world. Here He was in the fullness of time, in other words at just the right time!

Didn’t God know that there would be a census? Didn’t God know that there wouldn’t be room in the inn? Didn’t He know that the Son of God’s first bed would be a manger? Didn’t God know?

Of course, He did! APPLY!!

Isaiah 46:9-10 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”

It is a wonderful promise that we can apply to the birth of Jesus, but also to our everyday lives. Your heavenly Father knows, Father plans, Father works, He works for the good of those who belong to Him in all circumstances.

Let’s go back to Mary. Was she troubled as she was trying to cope with the fact that her special baby boy started his life in a astable? Questioning what had happened? Was she looking at Jesus, wondering why she could only offer Him a manger in a stable? I don’t believe she did. Let me tell you why.

You see, after Jesus was born, there had been visitors. No, not the mayor of Bethlehem or a special delegation from the local synagogue. No, shepherds, just ordinary shepherds.

But what they told Mary and Joseph was far from ordinary. They had had visitors too: there was an angel of the Lord and as the glory of the Lord shone around them, the angel said to the shepherds: ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’

Mary looked down at her firstborn Son, and treasured the fact Jesus lying in a manger was not the result of things going wrong, but was a sign of God that this was His plan! APPLY!!

The shepherds told Mary and Joseph that suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.’

On whom his favour rests! Mary remembered the words of the angel who said to her 9 months ago: “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

From the words of the shepherds Mary realised that the favour and peace and blessings of God would reach well beyond Mary and well beyond this little stable and well beyond Bethlehem and would reach all sorts of people, including us here today. “Good news that will cause great joy for all the people - Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you!! Mary received the testimony of the shepherds regarding her Son Jesus and treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Two things to take home:

  • We need to do more of what Mary did: Receive, treasure and ponder the truth of Christmas.
  • We need to do more of what the shepherds did: After they had seen Jesus, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child.

Happy New Year!



Edington Chapel 24th Oct ‘21   Matthew 11:28-30

Speaker: Crawford Telfer

MY BIRTHDAY TREAT!                                                                                         My special birthday treat – a new camera. All was well until I looked at the instructions, pages and pages. So complicated, I felt like sending it back . . . What I really wanted was something simple – that I could understand. But then as I looked at the camera, I noticed the life saver. A setting that said automatic. So I have left it on that, and it hasn’t half made it a lot simpler to operate.

FINDING THE SETTING                                                                                  Have you ever felt the Christian life is like that instruction book?  So many things you have to do – things that are expected of you – rules you have to follow and there’s no joy, no ‘delight’ in following the Lord – it’s all a bit too much. Well our text this morning is  all about ‘finding the setting’ which lifts that heaviness  from us and restores the blessing in following Jesus.     

FAMOUS BUT NEGLECTED TEXT                                                    Our text is one of the most famous invitations Jesus ever made – maybe because of that we tend to neglect it – like a favourite friend or relative we rarely visit, but we know is there ready to help us when we need them. So let’s take a closer look at it this morning. And I hope we will see how these glorious few verses can put a new spring in our step, a sparkle in our eyes and a lightness in our spirit.

A PEOPLE WORN AND WEARY                                                              The people Jesus invited to come to him certainly needed lifting up and here’s why:  For centuries, since the time of Moses the Jews had lived by the law. They believed that was how you got right with God.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS                                                          We know the first of them as the 10 Commandments which God gave to  Moses. But these eventually grew to over 600 laws which the Jews call the ‘Torah’. Those laws covered every aspect of daily life – personal hygiene, family and relationships, what you could eat and not eat, and so on. From Moses to Jesus, being ‘right with God’ was all about obeying those laws.  

THE LAW WAS GOOD                                                                               In Psalm 19:7 David declares: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes

HERE COME THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES                              But then along came the Scribes and Pharisees. They interpreted those laws, telling the people what they meant.  And this is where they made Jesus angry, because they often twisted them, made them say what God had not at all intended. In fact they added to them, so that they ended up with thousands of ‘sub-laws’. For example the law about the Sabbath – one short command:    Exodus 20:8 ‘remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy’.          They added about 1500 extra laws to that.  

EXAMPLE OF EXTRA LAWS                                                         Disabled man Jesus healed by the pool at Bethesda and how they accused him of breaking the Sabbath law on two counts:                                              1. Jesus healed – according to the Pharisees  you could only heal to save                                                       2. Carrying a bed on the Sabbath - they said was work.

WHY THEY WERE DESPISED                                                          You can understand why the people despised them. They were hypocrites – they didn’t practice what they preached. They never lifted a finger to help the weak and the struggling. They had no compassion, they were merciless.

It’s no wonder the people were weary and heavy laden by this continual pressure to be always doing the right thing as interpreted by those scribes and Pharisees.

They knew nothing of David’s experience which he declared in Psalm 16:11 ‘in your presence is fullness of joy, at your right hand are pleasures  evermore.’ These Scribes and Pharisees had robbed them of it.  No joy, no pleasure. It was religion of the worst kind.

HERE COMES JESUS                                                                      So when Jesus saw what was going on it made his blood boil and he exposed them for what they were, and his language was definitely not what you’d hear at a vicar’s tea party. For instance listen to this from Matthew 23: . . . . . .       

Jesus is talking about how they:   “. . preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”

 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  Strong stuff, because they were making the people suffer.

CHRISTIANS TODAY WEARY ANND WORN                                                   There are Christians today, suffering in exactly the same way!    Yes, they believe in Jesus, that He died to take away their sin and bring them back to the Father. Yes, they believe that their salvation is by faith.

BUT, for them being a Christian is still all about what you can do and what you can’t do.

They’re living by rules. Rules that are unspoken,  rules not even in the Bible – rules about                                     * how you should dress to go to Church,         * how you should behave in church.                                                * * Rules  about the places you mustn’t go to,   * Rules about drink. What - you like wine?                                  * Rules about the kind of people you can be friends with.

DUTY - OUGHT – THE RIGHT THING                                                     But they’re not only concerned with obeying rules. The Christian life for them is all about ‘performance’ -  doing their ‘duty’,  doing the ‘right’ thing. What I call the religion of ‘ought’ -  

The Bible reading , the praying, the giving, the acts of kindness – they’re all done out of a sense of ‘duty’, not out of a thankful heart filled with the love of God. 

What is meant to be a blessing has become a chore  because they’re weary and burdened and discouraged with all those ‘rules’  they are trying to obey and the Christian life has become a marathon to be endured rather than a loving relationship to be enjoyed.

PHARISEES TODAY                                                                               Yes, the Pharisee spirit is still among us, like Covid and we are all prone to catching it. You can recognise the symptoms – a nagging voice:  ‘you have to do this, you have to do that’. ‘you’re not good enough’, ‘why weren’t you at the prayer meeting last week?’ You should be reading your Bible’           It’s a voice which accuses, drags you down, makes you feel useless,  discouraged, inadequate, a failure, guilty.      It’s a voice that destroys your joy in the Lord and makes serving him a drudge instead of a delight. It’s a voice which has closed many a church.

And there’s only one vaccine which is able to set us free and it’s the love and grace of our beautiful Lord Jesus.

FREEDOM = ACCEPT HIS INVITATION                                                    And we receive it when we accept the same invitation Jesus gave to all the people in Israel 2,000 years ago: ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden. And I will give you rest.’

* Rest from living by rules,       Rest from trying to earn God’s love - who already loves you with    an everlasting love.         * Rest from ‘performing’ - trying to earn more brownie points.   

HOW THE REST COMES                                                                              So how does He give us this rest? He tells us – ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’,           

Did you hear that?  ‘EASY and LIGHT’.  How can that be? Surely you’re mistaken?

LET’S LOOK MORE CLOSELY                                                           In Jesus’ time ‘Take my yoke upon you . . .’ was a figure of speech for ‘going to the school of a Rabbi’. Rabbi’s were highly respected teachers of the law – the Torah, which was at the heart of Jewish life. Each Rabbi had his own disciples – and they’d not only learn from their Rabbi, but adopt his way of life – in a sense you could say the disciples became ‘yoked’ to the Rabbi by their commitment to him.          So the people would have understood that Jesus was inviting them to become his followers, his disciples as he taught them how to understand the scriptures.


And the teaching of Jesus would have been in sharp contrast to the heavy, complicated teaching of the Pharisees. When Jesus said ‘my yoke is easy’, he’s saying ‘my teaching is easy’ – and in the original language the word ‘easy’ also means pleasant and gracious. For instance He condensed all those 613 laws down to 2 as we read in Matthew 22:37: – 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.

These two commands, embody the full law


Then the burden Jesus gives us – this is to do with how we serve Him, the work He calls us to do for the Kingdom. He describes it as being ‘light’. The meaning of ‘light’ in the original means ‘easy to bear’. It’s not heavy, onerous, grinding you down, keeping you up all night.

BURDENS NOT FROM GOD                                                                           I wonder how many of the Lord’s people are weary and worn out with the heaviness of ‘the Lord’s work’ – work which has been put upon them or persuaded to take on – not by the Lord but by others, maybe leaders in the church and they’ve agreed only to find it’s wearing them out - like our missionary turned lorry driver.

The Lord does NOT overload his children

THE CUP OF WATER                                                                  Listen to how Jesus describes Himself: ‘I am gentle and humble in heart’.  He notices even the smallest act of kindness – giving someone a cup of water – very welcome in the heat of the day. And He says such a person will not lose their reward.

THERE’S REST IN SERVING HIM                                                              When we serve him, and do what He calls us to do, and not what others tell us we ought to do - a lovely thing happens: we find rest, real rest for our soul – not the kind of rest that sends us to sleep, but the kind that refreshes and energizes us.

Paul described how the Lord gave him the energy to travel some 10,000 miles on foot to proclaim him to the world. Here’s what he wrote from Col. 1:28: . . ‘To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.’  

That’s how Paul was able to keep going, against all the opposition and hardship of his missionary journeys.

Jesus himself in John 4:34 described doing the will of God as his food: it gave him strength and energy.


There’s an important lesson here for all of us. When we’re doing what the Lord calls us to do, he gives us the strength and energy to do it. It comes by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.                  It’s a good way to find out if you are following the Lord’s calling for your life – because when you are – there is this energizing yet strangely refreshing rest of the soul.


There is also pleasure in it.

Think of the heart cry of David in Psalm 40:8 ‘I delight to do your will’.

How many Christians think of the will of God as something that will make them miserable, something they’d hate.   

Paul writes in Romans 2:12 of God’s ‘good and pleasant and perfect will’.


When I was a very new Christian I came across a wonderful verse which has blessed me all through my life. It’s in Phil 2:13     for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’


When we accept Jesus’ invitation to take His yoke upon us and learn of him, we discover that he really is gentle and humble in heart. And we find that rest for our souls.

Augustine’s prayer

Lord, you are the light of the minds who know you, the
life of the souls who love you, and the strength of the
souls who serve you. Help us to know you that we may
truly love you, so to love you that we may fully serve
You, whose service is perfect freedom.

Through Christ our Lord.    Amen.



    Edington Chapel – Sunday 17th October 2021  Speaker: James McKee from WEC

John 20:19-31 & Acts 1:1-8

V:21 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”



A.The last 20 months has been very unsettling

1.Families separated

2.Lives put on hold

3.Jobs changed completely

4.Missionaries stranded


B.What about the disciples

1.Hopes had been dashed

2.Emotions turned upside down

3.Thy had let their best friend down, and themselves

4.They were going back to their old lives

a)Back to Emmaus

b)Back Fishing

c)But what about those who had nothing to go back to

Matthew 19: 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

5.They were emotionally distraught

6.They were extremely terrified

7.They were locked inside

a)Physically in the room

b)Emotionally in their hearts

c)Spiritually full of doubt

Luke 24:38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?


C.But there were rumours going around

1.The grave was empty

2.The women said they saw Him

3.What’s happening?


D.Then they see a ghost !!!

Luke 24: 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 


II.The Peace

John 20: 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 


A.Was this a simple Arabic Greeting

1.Peace be unto you

2.Was it something deeper

B.While we allow turmoil to reign in our lives – it will paralyse us from action

1.But God Blesses us with Peace

2.From the beginning of the OT, God blesses his people with Peace

Numbers 6:24-26 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;  the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

3.The message to the shepherds

Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.

4.The message to give encouragement and assurance

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


C.When we allow the Father’s Peace to reign – it will empower us to action

John 20: 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 


III.The Proof

John 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Acts 1:After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.


A.They saw Him

John 20:20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.


B.Thomas touched Him

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”


C.He did miracles

John 20: 30-31 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 21: 25

D.He was with them for forty days

Acts 1:3 He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 

1.Not just a vision

2.Jesus appeared time and time again to them

3.In all sorts of different environments

E.He ate with them

Luke 24:41b-43 “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

Acts 1:On one occasion, while he was eating with them

IV.The Preparation

A.They had been with Jesus

Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

1.They had lived with Him for 3 ½ years

a)Talked with Him





f)Wept with Him

g)Laughed with Him

2.They Knew Him


B.They had a personal relationship with Jesus

1.How much time do you spend with Jesus?

2.Do you talk to Him about everything?

3.Do you keep some things to yourself? There is no point, He knows it all!


C.They had been witnesses of Jesus

Acts 1:21-22 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 

beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.

1.Have you witnessed Jesus working in your life?

2.Have you witnessed the power of prayer?

3.You must be faithful in small things before God will ask you to do bigger things!


V.The Promise

Acts 1: On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

A.The Holy Spirit

John Stott - Before Christ sent the church into the world, he sent the Spirit into the church. 

a)The Holy Spirit came on Jesus at His baptism

b)It gave Him the power to overcome temptation

c)To be obedient to the Father

d)To complete the task the Father had given Him

Robert Morgan - The baton is passed from the Son to the Spirit regarding the divine mission on earth.


B.The Power

Acts 1: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you

1.English words dynamic, dynamo, and dynamite

2.The power is for employment and not simply enjoyment!

3.The same power that brought Christ back from the dead is there for us!


VI.The Purpose

A.To Go John 20:21

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.

1.When we have God’s peace – We can go and give it to others

2.2000 years on we are still commanded to Go

3.Jesus is still sending us

B.Be witnesses Acts 1:8

1.Definition - a person who sees or experiences something and is able to describe it to other people

Luke 24:47-48 forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. 

Acts 5:32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit

2.When we live for Jesus – we will draw others to Him


C.Preach the gospel Mark 16:15

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

1.Not Tourists

Acts 8:Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

οι μεν ουν διασπαρεντες διηλθον ευαγγελιζομενοι τον λογον

2.A Missionary is – Going with a God given Purpose

3.Bringing the GOOD NEWS to those who have never heard


D.Make Disciples Matthew 18:19

Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit

1.There are many parts of the world where the Church barely exists

2.There are so many migrants & refugees in our own area

VII.The Practice

A.The apostles in Action

1.Acts 2 All the apostles

2.Acts 3&4         Peter & John

3.Acts 5 All the apostles

Acts 5:12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people.

Acts 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!

B.The Deacons in Action

1.Stephen Acts 6:8

Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 

2.Philip Acts 7:5 

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there


C.The Church in Action

Acts 7:On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 


D.What next?

John Piper

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't.”


Hudson Taylor

"The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed."


CT Studd

"True religion is like the smallpox. If you get it, you give it to others, and it spreads."


Norman Grubb

“Good morning God, what are you up to today? I want to be part of it. May I? Thank you, Amen”




Sunday 26th September 2021. Speaker: James Paterson


We’ve just had a very strange 18 months. The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside-down, giving us months of worry, panic, stress and isolation.  For many of those months, all of our regular activities were cancelled, we were cut off from seeing friends and family, and confined to our homes.  For most of us it’s been an awful time in most practical senses.  But I wonder what sort of impact this strange time has had on you spiritually?

For me I think there were some big spiritual lows which were ultimately helpful.  For several months I worked from home on my own.  And I found my productivity slipping – I’d get stuck writing a report, and then I’d find every excuse to avoid working on it, or even thinking about it.  I became increasingly concerned that my colleagues would ask how I was getting on with the report, and aware that I wasn’t really honouring God with my work.

Around this sort of time my world was closing in on myself.  I no longer really saw people regularly and all my time and energy seemed to be focussed on ME. 

All this made me feel rubbish.  I felt guilty for the work I hadn’t done, and I felt ashamed that I was the sort of person who slacked on work, and I felt afraid of facing the work I still had to do.  And I was afraid that if people or if God found out what I was like, they would hate me in some way, they would be shocked at how lazy I was.

Who could rescue me from this miserable state of shame? Jesus! Of course! I was gradually reminded through much work of the spirit that Jesus really did love me even though I was a messy sinner.  Not only that, but he could save me from it.  So in the end, my lockdown misery has grown my appreciation for Jesus’ kindness, his compassion, his great salvation.

And in our passage today, Jesus meets another person who feels really ashamed and dirty, and shows just how compassionate he is. 

We’re going to start at verse 40, where we’ll read the incredible story of Jesus cleansing the leper.  Let’s read.

Point 1 – Jesus’ gospel ministry: cleansing the leper

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

Picture the scene.  Jesus is walking through a village on the way to preach at the synagogue.  And a man covered in festering sores, dressed in stinking torn robes, with his flesh rotting away pushes his way towards Jesus.  You can imagine all the other people fighting to get away from him.  The looks of horror and disgust. 

The physical situation for this man is awful.  But we need to think a bit more about what leprosy so we can understand the truly awful nature of his plight.

Generally, leprosy is a name for a collection of skin conditions that make the skin fester & rot.  There’s a technical definition nowadays as to what exactly the disease is – in fact I believe my grandfather worked with a Dr Paul Brand in India to work out what caused it and help to treat those suffering with the technical disease of leprosy.  Andrew has got lots of interesting stories about his time there, worth asking him about it later.  But whatever the technical disease was, it was thought to be infectious and people would stay away. 

And there was another huge dimension to this skin disease: ceremonial uncleanness.  To understand this we’ll need to rewind through the Bible, and through the history of Israel to the book of Leviticus.

Leviticus is a rather meaty book describing how the sinful Israelites could meet a holy God.  In many ways it’s an amazing book, showing that God really was committed to meeting his people.  But it also shows what a great barrier there is between humans and our holy, set-apart God.  The book speaks about all the sacrifices that have to be made for different sins.

And relevant to us, it speaks about how people with infectious skin diseases are ‘unclean’. 

Let’s read from Leviticus chapter 13.

Starting at verse 1.

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest.  The priest is to examine the sore on his skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is an infectious skin disease.  When the priest examines him, he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean.”

Then skipping to verse 45:

“The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out ‘Unclean! Unclean!’  As long as he has the infection he remains unclean.  He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.”

If it wasn’t bad enough to have a horrible disease, God determines that the disease makes them ceremonially unclean.  They have to physically identify themselves as unclean by looking even more repulsive than their skin condition already makes them – with torn clothes and messy hair.  And they have to live outside the camp. 

Living outside the camp would be lonely.  But it also has spriritual significance.  At the centre of Israel’s camp was the tabernacle, the meeting place of God with the people.  And being outside the camp, they’re excluded from that meeting.  The lepers are excluded from relationship with people, and they’re excluded from relationship with God.  Constantly reminded by their own cries ‘unclean! Unclean!’ of their shame, of their vile condition.

What an awful state the leper in Mark chapter 1 is in! Excluded, ashamed, hated… unclean.

 And this man “came to Jesus and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean’”.

This was a big move for the man.  He’s desperate of course.  He’s totally aware of his uncleanness.  Of how according to the Jewish law he should stay away from people.  But he’s heard about Jesus, he’s heard about the how Jesus has been healing people in Capernaum and all around.  He’s heard that Jesus is powerful – that he has the power to heal even the worst diseases.  The man has faith, he believes that Jesus can do it. 

But what he doesn’t know is if Jesus is willing.  Jesus might have healed other diseases.  But this is a particularly dirty one.  An offensive disease.  An ugly disease.  It’s unclean.  Jesus, as a jew, should stay away.  Leviticus chapter 5 says “if a person touches anything ceremonially unclean – even though he is unaware of it, he has become unclean and is guilty”

The leper thinks – perhaps I’m too dirty, too unclean for Jesus to help.  All he can do is cast himself at Jesus’ feet, begging Jesus for help.

How does Jesus react to this desperate plea from the vile leper?

Let’s carry on from verse 41.  “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.  “I am willing,” he said.  “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.

Compassion.  That’s Jesus’ reaction.  Before him is an ugly, contagious, mess of a man.  And Jesus is FILLED with COMPASSION.  How wonderful our saviour Jesus is, that when he sees someone dirty, ashamed, in need, desperate, he has compassion!

And then he reaches out and touches the man.

This man probably hadn’t been touched by anyone for years.  Not his wife, not his children, not his friends – if he even had any of them.  Anyone who touched him would become unclean so no one would dare.  But Jesus reaches out and touches him.

So according to the law in Leviticus, Jesus should become unclean at this point.  But no! Instead, Jesus says ‘I am willing.  Be clean!”.  Immediately the leprosy leaves the man and he is cured. 

Jesus has authority over the leprosy, over the uncleanness.  Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the leper becomes clean! 

What a relief for the man.  He’s been cleaned! The physical affliction has left him.  He’s had his first touch in years.  He’s been cleaned!

Let’s carry on with the story from verse 43.

“Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone.  But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

This second instruction is another act of kindness from Jesus.  One of the things we skipped over in Leviticus chapter 13 was how people could go to a preist when they’ve recovered from their condition and offer sacrifices, and be declared clean.  Then they could be formally welcomed back into the camp, into community, into Israel.  So Jesus is sending the man off to be welcomed back into community officially.  And Jesus is showing that he cares about the law.

What an incredible story.  A man in a desperate, unclean state casts himself at the feet of Jesus and receives mercy, compassion and cleanliness.   Isn’t our Jesus wonderful? His kindness, compassion, sensitivity.

Point 2 – Jesus’ gospel ministry, Jesus trading places with the unclean

There’s a final curious detail to Mark’s account of Jesus cleansing the leper.  And it gives us a clue to an amazing application of this story – we’ll discover in our second point that Jesus trades places with the unclean. Jesus trades places with the unclean.

Let me read again from verse 43

“Jesus sent him away with a strong warning: See that you don’t tell this to anyone… then moving to verse 45… Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news.  As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.  Yet the people still came to him from everywhere”

Jesus asks the leper to keep his healing on the down-low.  Jesus asks for this sort of secrecy a few times in Mark and the other gospels, particularly early on in his ministry.  Perhaps Jesus is trying to protect himself from false expectations of who he is and what he’s come to do.  Jesus does ultimately want everyone to know about him, but at this particular time he wanted people to hear about the good news of God – as he says in cverse 15 – The time has come, the kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!  Jesus’ priority was for people to repent and believe the good news about his kingdom – and only a part of his ministry was healing. 

But whatever the reason for Jesus’ request, the man disobeys.  I don’t think we need to make any judgements on the man – Imagine how hard it would be to contain your joy at being healed by such a compassionate, wonderful person as Jesus.  But there was a consequence for Jesus.  “As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places.”  Jesus has become too famous, too well known for his healing, so he’s absolutely set upon by crowds as soon as he enters a town.  So Jesus has to stay outside the town, in lonely places. 

Does this ring a bell? Remember what we read in Leviticus earlier on – “The leper must live alone, he must live outside the camp”.  In a strange way, Jesus has switched places with the leper.  Jesus has ended up outside the camp, in lonely places.

And at this point we must start thinking about the bigger, spiritual picture of what Jesus came to do on the earth.  Mark paints a wonderful picture here of Jesus cleaning someone who was physically and ceremonially unclean. 

But Jesus talks later in Mark about a greater uncleanness.  In Mark chapter 7 verse 20, Jesus says “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’.  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’.”

That’s a really ugly list of sin.  It’s a list of things that we do, that we think, that make us unclean before God.  Unclean on a much greater, more dire level than the skin disease the leper had.

The leper’s disease is really a helpful picture of what our hearts are like, or what they were like.  Unclean.  Polluted by our evil. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever felt the shame, the dirt of the sins Jesus mentioned.  The way evil thoughts, sexual immoraility, envy, greed make us feel ashamed, dirty, unclean. Unclean – aware that if people really saw our hearts, if God really saw our hearts, they would run away, they would exclude us from the camp, they wouldn’t want anything to do with us.  Unclean – your own conscience crying ‘guilty! Unclean!’, constantly reminding, accusing you of your sin.  Have you ever felt the uncleanness like that? I know I have! It’s a horrible feeling.

And as we come to Jesus, with the spiritual equivalent of rotting flesh, all we can do is fall at his feet and beg ‘if you are willing, you can make me clean’.  And what will his reaction be?

“Sort yourself out, clean yourself up, stop doing that sin and then come back later?”


“Go away and think about how unclean you are.  You deserve to be alone and miserable?”


Jesus’ reaction is so far from either of those reactions.  He’s filled with compassion for sinners, for the unclean, for the suffering.  He reaches out to us in our uncleanness, he touches us.  He’s not concerned about meeting us in our mess.  And he is willing and powerful to clean us.And we can have great confidence in his reaction.  He always has compassion.  He always forgives.  He always cleans. 

In case you’re not convinced, let me read from Hebrews chapter 9 verse 13:

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean so they are outwardly clean.  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.”

It’s ultimately Jesus’ blood that cleans us from our inward uncleanness.  When Jesus cleansed the leper, he ended up outside the camp in lonely places, he took the place of the leper.  When Jesus cleans us from our inward spiritual uncleanness, Jesus had to take our place in death! Jesus became dirty with our sins, and died to bear the consequence of them.  And we were washed by his blood, cleansed from all unrighteousness so that we can stand before God and serve him with confidence.

Point 3 – Jesus’ gospel ministry: prayer

Before we leave this wonderful passage, we should go back over the beginning of the section which we’ve skipped over so far to find our third point.  We missed out a vital part of Jesus’ ministry – Jesus values prayer and so should we.  Jesus values prayer and so should we.  Let’s read from verse 35

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

This is a really insightful little paragraph.  Jesus, the Son of God, the one who has authority to heal the sick, cast out demons, raise people from the dead, calm storms, forgive sins… Jesus, the Son of God felt the need to pray.  To spend some real, dedicated time in prayer.

To put this paragraph in context – the chapter before, Jesus has had a very successful mission in the town of Capernaum.  People had been bringing all their sick and demon possessed friends and family, and Jesus had been healing them!

And then  immediately after he prays, Jesus heads out for more mission.

Given that Jesus as the son of God has had all eternity to talk with his Father, and there’s some urgent mission work to get on with at the time, you might expect Jesus to skip his prayer time.  But no.  Jesus takes some precious time out.

The prayer being sandwiched right in the middle of Jesus’ healing and preaching work suggests just how important it is to Jesus.  How his time with his Father is what fuels his ministry.  Jesus had to go and talk to his Father so he could then go out and keep helping, blessing and preaching.

How much more do we need to pray! We who are not the eternal son of God.  We who are so weak! We who have so many needs, so many things that need God’s attention.

And as we’ve seen today, we have things to pray to God which Jesus didn’t.  We have uncleanness, sins which we can confess to God, and he will certainly forgive us and cleanse us.  If you’re feeling guilty, unclean, far from God, ashamed – take it to God! Jesus has shown us today how compassionate God is.  If we humble ourselves and go and talk to God, we can find total cleansing, even of our consciences.  We can find forgiveness, freedom and joy.

And then there’s all the things we need to pray for – our friends, our family, our work, our ministry…

And then there’s the opportunity to just bask in God’s goodness.  To ponder his glory, his kindness, his compassion, his eternal infinite power, his creation, his sensitivity, his generosity – and to thank him for it in prayer.

As the great hymn ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’ says “O what peace we often forfeit, o what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer”.

So today we’ve read that wonderful story of Jesus cleansing the leper and discovered Jesus’ compassion to the unclean, and his authority and power to cleanse him.  And we’ve remembered how Jesus directs that same compassion to us when we come to him with our spiritual uncleanness, and he has an even greater power of cleansing which he gained by taking our place on the cross.

Maybe you’ve never come to Jesus before.  Maybe you’re here today conscious of your uncleanness, of your shame and guilt.  Let me encourage you to come to Jesus.  He is compassionate.  He will not be put off by your uncleanness, no matter how awful your sin is.  If you throw yourself at his feet in prayer and ask for his cleansing, he will! He promises to forgive and to cleanse and to give new life to all who approach him humbly.

Maybe you’ve been a Christian for years but are feeling far from him today.  Maybe you haven’t prayed for a while.  Maybe there’s sin in your life you’re conscious of that’s making you feel dirty.  Let me encourage you to come to Jesus.  No matter how you’re feeling, he is compassionate.  He is loving.  He can help! He longs to help us. He longs to cleanse us.


              Message for Sunday Morning 4 July 2021   Speaker: John Woollam

                 Jonah’s Restoration

Reading:   Jonah 2 v10 – 3 v 10


The prophesy of Jonah is a little book in size, but large in content. The themes cover:

The Sovereignty of God, the waywardness of man’s heart, God’s persevering grace and His evangelistic heart to the nations.


This morning we will take up these themes as presented to us in chapter 3 under the title:

Jonah’s restoration and recommissioning with a message of hope for the Ninevites –

with remarkable results!

1 Jonah’s restoration  “..the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time ..” 3 v 1.

The original commission came to Jonah in 1 v 2 – “..Go to Nineveh..” But Jonah refused! As a privileged member of God’s chosen race, the Jews, he balked at the idea of Gentiles receiving God’s mercy.

He paid the fare at Joppa to sail in the opposite direction 1 v 3 but he was to pay a much more serious spiritual cost by coming under God’s sovereign correcting hand. God sent a storm 1 v 4 which resulted in Jonah’s ejection into the sea 1 v 15. This was followed by his being swallowed up by a large fish 1 v 17.

It was while he was in the stomach of the great fish (see chapter 2), that Jonah discovered the waywardness of his heart. He realised, through the trauma of his experience, that the real departure did not take place at the ticket office at Joppa’s harbour, but in his own heart even before he fled from the privileges of the company and fellowship with the Lord as His covenant-child. (Note the dual reference to his departure from “the presence of the Lord” in 1 v 3.

  • Note Jonah’s contriteness throughout this prayer of chapter 2.
  • Note his acknowledgement of his Father’s meticulous superintendence of all that happened to him on the ship and afterwards: eg. 2 v 3 “all Your billows and Your waves passed over me.”
  • Note his confident appeal for mercy, based on the sacrifices made in the Temple at Jerusalem. 2 v 4, 7.

Compare: Hebrews 10 vs 11 – 12 and 19 – 22.

  • Note his determination to retrace his spiritual steps and to be in fellowship with his Lord as a pardoned servant 2 v 9.

Application: Is Jonah’s story our story? Is Jonah’s heart our heart?

Through the various providences of life does our God (Jonah’s God) know how ‘to bring us back, our fallen spirits to restore’? Yes, He does!

2 Jonah’s restoration – to bring a message of hope.

“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 3 v 4

This does not sound like a message of hope; it sounds like a message of judgement.

Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria and the Assyrians were noted for their brutality: they were a constant thorn in the side of Israel and Judah. They were pagan idolaters and were clearly without any fear of the true and living God. Judgement was therefore entirely appropriate for them, as it had been for Sodom and Gomorrah; as it would be for Babylon  

The message was very simple, clear and direct. God’s wrath was about to break out upon them within a very short time.

Our message today must be equally precise, telling and urgent. It must include God’s concern and indignation because of man’s rebellion: See Romans 1 v 18 and Jesus’ parables in Matthew 25, especially the one concerning the sheep and the goats (vs 31 – 46). We need to speak of ‘salvation’, not simply in terms of what it is for but what it is from!

But this message is also a message of hope. Compare the wording of Jonah’s commission in 1 v 2 “.. cry out against it (Nineveh)” with the wording of 3 v 2 “.. preach to it (Nineveh)”.

When Jonah was first asked to go to the Assyrian Capital it was to emphasise God’s controversy against them. On the second occasion, he was asked to preach a fuller message, not just of God’s anger against the City, but of the prospect of pardon and restoration, if its inhabitants would repent and return to Him 3 v 9. This possibility of mercy is implied by God’s reaction in verse 10.

Application: In the belly of the big fish Jonah was being prepared to take a fully-orbed message of judgement and of hope to the Ninevites; a message that would be deeply felt by the prophet, having personally experienced both chastisement and mercy from God through the fish. It matters to God not only that His gospel is proclaimed, but that we who are called to pass it on should be spiritually trained to do so!

3 Jonah’s restoration – to bring a message of hope with remarkable results.

“God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” 3 v 10.

All the Ninevites from the oldest to the youngest repented of their defiance and unbelief and obtained favour from the Lord rather than the threatened destruction. They latched on to the words of hope in Jonah’s message and they ‘believed God’, ie. They entrusted themselves and their souls into the hands of Jonah’s God.

Compare:  Abraham’s response to the Lord Genesis 15 v 6.

What was it about this ‘evangelistic campaign’ in Nineveh which produced such amazing results?

  • Was it to do with the preacher who had now been restored to service?
  • Was it the fact that he was preaching God’s message in a plain, simple and direct manner?

Both of these factors can be taken into consideration as important elements in the process, BUT –

  • What made all the difference was the clear evidence of God’s presence in the communication of the message. When the Ninevites heard Jonah speak, it wasn’t Jonah that they heard, but a voice from heaven – God’s voice through His prophet, pointing to the promised Messiah, the One who also went through the depths, like Jonah, to rescue people from their sins, to bring them the hope of salvation. See Matthew 12 vs 38 – 41.


How much we need the powerful authentication of the gospel today in the minds and hearts of our friends and neighbours and people at large by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Do we not need to pray earnestly for ourselves and our preachers in the words of the Psalmist: Psalm 85 vs 4 – 7; and Habakkuk 3 v 2.


We have considered the great themes of Jonah as they relate to chapter 3. They also relate equally to all the chapters of our life. Praise God that Jonah’s God is our God in Jesus Christ and He does not change Hebrews 13 v 8; and what He has begun in us, He will go on to complete, no matter how reluctant we are, and will make us more and more into His profitable servants! Philippians 1 v 6.


Sunday morning 27th June 2021.  Speaker:  Derek Cleave     Jude 1-4 & 17-25

The two verses which conclude this little epistle contain words familiar to all of us. They form what is one of the best known benedictions used in the Christian church today.

It is a doxology in which we offer praise to God. The word doza means ‘praise’ and logos means ‘word’– therefore this is a word of praise and in particular a word of grateful praise to God for saving sinners. Doxologies are outbursts of praise as we contemplate the greatness of our salvation.

The emphasis on our salvation in this particular benediction is the great doctrine of Christian perseverance.

Our regeneration is important – our justification is important - our sanctification is important – our glorification is important. And what of the wonderful doctrines of conversion, or adoption, or reconciliation, or redemption or many other aspects of our salvation. But these all lose something of their value if in the end I have no guarantees.

Which of us would consider spending a large amount of money on something if we were being told by the seller that the item we are purchasing could break down tomorrow? A remark like that would make us think very seriously whether we wanted to make that kind of commitment. And Christianity is a commitment – life and soul to Jesus Christ.

Having given up all to be forgiven, having given up all to be rescued from hell, having given up all to receive the promise of heaven - then to be told that this deal comes without a guarantee?  To give myself up totally to Christ to be my Lord and Master knowing that he might not keep me?  There isn’t any guarantee?  That really makes it even more difficult - if not almost impossible to make this level of commitment. In effect there is no guarantee of heaven. Doesn’t that depreciate the value of the other aspects of salvation?

Can you therefore think of a more important element to our salvation than the fact that it comes with a guarantee – that we cannot lose it. This is what Jude is emphasising here.

I want to set out the reasons why I am convinced that we should believe this - and the repercussions of not believing it.

Let me ask a very basic question. Are you saved by grace or works? The answer of course is obvious. It’s by grace we have been saved, ‘through faith – and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast’ Eph 2:8-9.  Notice ‘it is the gift of God.’ If any part of my salvation depends on me then it is ‘works’ – which directly contradicts what Paul is telling the Ephesians. Frankly if any part of my salvation depended on me then I wouldn’t be saved at all.

If the Lord can’t hold on to me, what hope is there?  If salvation isn’t God’s work, then I’m not going to get there.  If God doesn’t save me, I can’t save myself.  If he doesn’t sanctify me, I can’t sanctify myself.  And if he doesn’t glorify me, I can’t glorify myself.  I’m not good enough to save myself and I’m certainly not good enough to keep myself.  I will never be worthy of salvation. 

John MacArthur puts it powerfully in this way – ‘If you could lose your salvation, you would.  You understand that?  If you could, you would.  If it’s possible, it will happen.  It has to be.  If any part of my eternal salvation depends upon my power and ability and commitment and righteousness, I won’t get there.’ 

MacArthur is right. For the Christian there is a strange conundrum. The more mature you are as a Christian, the more spiritually minded you are, the more righteous you are, the more sanctified you are - the more wretched you know you are. The Apostle Paul knew that. Romans 7:24 - “What a wretched man I am” - that’s the statement of a very mature believer.

He says ‘I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature’ v18. He knows why that condition persists. ‘If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it but it is sin living in me that does it’ v20.

‘In my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members’ v22.

Thank God there is a continuing provision in Christ for wretched sinners.

None of this is to suggest that we have not been changed. There has been a remarkable turnaround. As John Newton said-

‘I am not what I ought to be

I am not what I want to be

I am not what I hope to be

But still I am not what I used to be

And by the grace of God I am what I am’

So as we mature we will sin less and feel worse, because with the decrease of sin comes an increase of holiness and with an increase of holiness comes a greater hatred of sin and so we sin less and hate it more. 

I still have unredeemed human flesh.  Sin is still in me.  I’m prone to sin, I’m prone to doubt.  I’m prone to unbelief.  I’m prone to rebellion.  And the longer I live the longer grows the list. How could I possibly keep my salvation?

And if I have to keep myself saved by anything that I do, I will live my whole life under a cloud of fear, real fear because I can’t do it. 

Spurgeon said, “No man can keep himself, he’ll surely fail. If left to ourselves, we’ll go to hell.  Only Jesus can save us from our sins.”

So you see that if you and I could lose our salvation we would!

Do you acknowledge how vital this doctrine of permanence or security is? Thank God that ‘he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ Phil 1:6.

So we turn to this doxology which closes out Jude’s letter.

Let me remind you of the contents of the epistle so far. The Lord’s half-brother writes to privileged believers ‘who have been called who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ’ (verse 1) to warn of ‘certain men...who have secretly slipped in among you’ (verse 4). He is identifying apostates in the church and urging the believers to engage in fighting these spiritual terrorists. ‘Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’ (verse 3).

And as he continues his letter Jude gives us the history of apostates – even back to the angels who ‘did not keep their positions of authority.’ He characterizes all apostates and confirms that their judgement is sure. 

And after this long list running all the way down to verse 17, he says, “But dear friends.”  How are you going to defend yourself in a time of apostasy?  How are you going to protect yourself?  How you going to fight for the truth?  How you going to engage in the long war against the truth?

Firstly they are to ‘remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.’  You must not be surprised. Though you may be distressed to see and hear of false teaching in the church and for these first century believers so early in the history of the church - they must remember as we should, that this was prophesied.

Secondly they must remain faithful. ‘Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit’ (verse 20). They must keep themselves ‘in God’s love’ as they anticipate the Lord’s return ‘to bring you to eternal life’ (verse 21).

Then they must reach out to those who doubt and even to those who are entrenched in their false beliefs – though there are dangers of corruption.

‘Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh’ (verses 22-23.

So this poses the question ‘How do we keep ourselves pure and out of danger whilst being in contact with those who could affect us?’ How do we make sure that we don’t lose OUR salvation?

The answer is found in this doxology. We offer the doxology ‘to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault...’

This whole book is about those who fell. The angels fell from their exalted position; the Israelites fell – the false teachers fell. Now I am called to reach out to those who have fallen. Is there not a danger that I might fall as well? Is my eternal salvation in some doubt if I put myself in that position?

So Jude ends with this wonderful assurance. Christ our Saviour is able to keep us from falling and to present us in glory.

Two points of application - he keeps us here and he takes us there!

1. HE KEEPS US HERE. He is ‘able to keep you from falling.’

Is he really able? Can he deliver? Listen to what Jesus told his disciples. John 6: 37-39 ‘All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive him away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me but raise them up at the last day’.

The Father gives to the Son and the Son keeps and then raises on the last day.

Verse 40 confirms this ‘My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day.’ Again verse 44 ‘No one can come to me unless the Father draws him and I will raise him up on the last day.’

The question then is not about God’s willingness. It’s not about God’s purpose.  We know he is willing and we know he has purposed to save those he has chosen and given to the Son.  The only question is, is he able?  Jude answers the question, “To him who is able...” He is able. He is the only God our Saviour and if he doesn’t save us, we aren’t going to save ourselves.  Jesus promises ‘I shall lose none of all he has given me!’ v39.

He is able. The word ‘able’ comes from the Greek word for dynamite which is often used in relation to the power of God.

Three men were faced by an angry, powerful king who demanded that they worship an image of gold he had set up – or else be consigned to a burning furnace. Their response?  – ‘If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it and rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not we want you to know O king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up’ Daniel 3: 17-18. He is able.

The writer to the Hebrews encourages us that ‘because Jesus lives forever...’he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them’ 7:25.

There’s no question about his ability, He is able.  It is dangerous to live in the apostate environment today. Apostasy is on the increase.  We’re exposed to more lies and more deception than any generation in history because of the media.  If you’re going to do any evangelism, you’re going to get close to somebody who is in an evil system.  And the question is...should we draw back in fear and not evangelize for fear that somehow we might get burned reaching to snatch somebody out of the fire?  Or we might get polluted by grabbing someone deep in filth?  If you’re a true believer, you are in no danger of fatal corruption - you are in no danger of damnation – because God is able.  Humanly speaking, the path to heaven is dangerous.  It’s filled with stumbling blocks.  It’s filled with temptations.  It’s filled with sins and iniquities and transgressions.  It’s filled with the enticements of Satan.  But in another sense, the path to heaven is absolutely safe - not because I’m able but because he’s able.  I’m weak, ignorant, disobedient, selfish, sinful, and rebellious, and every enemy there is waits to ambush me and you too. But we need have no fear.  We rest not in our own ability, we rest in his power. 

‘To him who is able to keep you’ keep”...phulasso in Greek. Phulasso is a military word, to guard or watch over.  He is able to guard us, he watches over us, he’s at his post, we are in safe custody while under assault, that’s what that word means. 

And he is able to “keep us from (apostates) falling’ - apostasy.  It’s the only place in the Bible where that word is used.  He keeps us from apostasy.  You can’t fall away because he keeps you from becoming an apostate.

How does he do it?  By the gift of a permanent faith and the indwelling Holy Spirit.  He hangs on to us.  We know this because of so many testimonies in Scripture.  Listen again to Jesus in the tenth chapter of John’s gospel and verse 28.  “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.’ Then he adds ‘My Father who has given them to me is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand” v29. Jesus says – ‘I won’t let go. The Father won’t let go. And no one is sufficiently powerful to force us to release anyone.’ 

That’s why Philippians 1:6 says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  He who started it will finish it.  Apostate angels fell.  Apostates in Israel fell.  Apostates in Sodom and Gomorrah fell.  Apostates in the church fell.  But true believers are kept.  Our Lord has the will and he has the power to keep us. He keeps us here.


‘He is able... to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy.’

One day we will stand in glory. ‘Standing’ is the contrast to ‘falling.’ Being kept has to do with earth – standing has to do with heaven.

What remarkable grace. To stand ‘before his glorious presence.’ Whenever we read of those who were brought into the presence of God they were either terrified or traumatised.

Isaiah pronounces a curse on himself.  Ezekiel falls over like a dead person.  Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration fall over in a semi-coma. John in the book of Revelation sees the vision of Christ and he’s like a dead person.  Whenever anybody is in the presence of God in Scripture, it is a frightening experience because they know they’re sinful.

No sinner stands in the presence of God. The Revelation makes it clear that ‘nothing impure will ever enter (the holy city) nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful’ 21:27.

What is the believer going to say? I have kept myself saved and I deserve to stand in the presence of God! Not at all!

He is ‘able to ...present (us) before his glorious presence’ and notice that it is ‘without fault’ and instead of fear it’s ‘with great joy.’

We are presented as without fault i.e. blameless. Right now we are not blameless, though we are treated as if we were blameless because Christ bore our sins and we’ve been given his righteousness.  God treats Christ on the cross as if he lived our lives so he can treat us as if we lived his.  But we are not now worthy to enter into heaven.  That’s why we have to be transformed; we have to lose this body of flesh and receive a new body to go into God’s presence.  But that will happen.  We will not be there merely as survivors.  We will not just be free from guilt and sin, we will be holy...we will be blameless...we will be faultless. We will not only not be capable of doing evil; we will be only capable of doing right. 

And instead of fear and trauma and panic and fainting, we’ll be overwhelmed with forever.

Listen to what Spurgeon wrote.

 “And when I heard it said that the Lord would keep His people right to the end, when I heard it said that Christ said, ‘My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand.’  When I heard that said, I must confess...says Spurgeon...that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was the bait that my soul could not resist.  It was a sort of life insurance, an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny.  I knew I couldn’t keep myself but if Christ promised to keep me, then I would be safe forever and I longed and I prayed to find Christ because I knew that if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary salvation as some preach.  But eternal life which could never be lost, the living and incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever, for no one and nothing could ever separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

‘The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose

He will not, he will not desert it its foes

That soul though all hell should endeavour to shake

He’ll never, no never, no never forsake.’

‘To the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.’


 Morning Service. 13th June 2021    Speaker: Wayne O’Leary

Proverbs 5v1-23   How to Stay out of Trouble 

Introduction – Building a Context for this passage:

Introduction & Background Material to Proverbs & Torah/Law -

Relationship of the text to the text – Torah – Proverbs - NT

Relationship of Gods people to the Biblical text – “Sit with me…”

Torah is a relationship word – Law through Grace – imagery behind it… Father/Son

The Importance and explanation of the Phylactery:

Post Egypt  Ex 13v9,16  Deut 6v4-9   Ex 20: Thou shalt not have any gods before me, Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness – whether word of lifestyle, thou shalt not covet your neighbours wife……

My whole life is guided by Torah – Both in Thought and Action…

If I am left handed I wrap the phylactery on my right hand – so my action hand is guided and still active NOT theoretical…

The Importance and Explanation of the Man’s Kippah

The relationship of God’s people with Him and the text

Introduction & Context for our Generation:

1962 – 1963 USA Bans Prayer & Lords Prayer

No public schools shall have prayer – It violates the first amendment

Before 1962 the majority of Public schools had prayer times

1963 Lords prayer and name of Jesus banned from Public schools

Rejection of both God and the Biblical text.

The teens in the class rooms in 1962-3 are now the law makers and policy makers in USA…

There is a clear relationship between Torah and Lords prayer and Proverbs!

Lords prayer = 10 Commandments

Lords Prayer = Word/Torah become flesh

Proverbs = wise council on the 10 commandments

Rejection of Lords Prayer – Proverbs – Law/Torah = Rejection of God

Rejection of God brings 5 areas of Disorder to a Nation:

Sexual Disorder

Economic Disorder

Social Disorder

Spiritual Disorder

Family Disorder.

This chapter in the book of Proverbs actually covers all five areas of collapse in a Person and nation!

5v1 – My son.. Person/Individual

5v7 Now then My sons… Nation/Society

Never say “I am ok, this passage does not apply to me..”

It would be nicer to avoid this passage!

The Bible is very realistic about issues

Books in the world V Books in the Bible

The Bible demands a response from you – its written that way..

Its not the passages I don’t understand that I have a problem with….!

Proverbs 5 deals with THREE issues that protect the individual (son) and the Nation (sons)



  1. WISDOM – Wise or Distorted - v1-6

Compare Exodus 20 – You shalt not commit Adultery nor covet your neighbours wife, or bare false witness..

Now see what happens when you do!!!!

Wise words – Incline ear – attentive – Animals lives depend on the inclining of an ear to hear!

Immorality – anything that is an offence to God

Description: Lips – Honey = sweet

                     Smoother than oil = Attractive    = DANGER SIGN

Samson – overwhelmed with Delilah = Her Hips, Her Lips, Her finger tips….

BUT (v4) In the end… Bitter as wormwood – a strong sign of bitterness in life

Two graphic opposing contrasts

Other images:

SWORD - Sharp – two edge sword – fatal – hurts the person and can hurt the attacker –

Two edge sword – no one gets away without harm

FEET - Go down – to death – she will take you the opposite direction to God!!

When Jonah ran from God it was down to Joppa, down to the sea, down into the boat…

Lit - Her feet will kill you

STEPS – Place of the dead – Sheol – Place of Darkness….

Jews understand this to be the place of dead people – where they go..

She will take you to the grave AND beyond

2 Peter 2 uses strong language and speaks of it as a reality

Give attention to my wisdom –

  1. WORDS – Active OR Passive (v7-14)

Now then my SONS – Do not depart from the WORDS of my mouth

Keep your way from her

Don’t go near to her door

= If you see her coming – walk away

= Don’t visit her house (door)

List of what will happen:

Loose possessions

Loose Strength

Loose Health

Loose Dignity, respect

Loose friends

Sickness caused for many:

Sexual diseases are both difficult and shameful for those who get them:

Gonorrhea,  Syphilis, Chlamydia, Herpes, Aids etc…. all cause serious issues and damage others too.

Unwanted pregnancies – i.e. David & Bathsheba

*Emotional bonding

You groan in the end when your flesh and your body are consumed

COSTS TO UK – 2012 £100 BILLION Annually

“Sexual freedom and relationship breakdown” cost Britain £100 billion annually

January 29, 2012 Written by Dr Peter Saunders Uncategorized

Dr Peter Saunders was, until December 2018, the Chief Executive of CMF. Prior to that he was a general surgeon in New Zealand, Kenya and the UK. He is now the CEO of the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA), a global movement uniting national Christian medical and dental organisations in over 60 countries,



The costs of sexual freedom and relationship breakdown to the taxpayer and wider economy total some £100 billion annually; about twice as much as alcohol abuse, smoking and obesity combined.

The Bible does not hide the fact that sex is pleasurable but also makes it clear that out of Gods way its destructive..

Son/Sons listen to me…..

  1. WATER – Healthy OR Poisoned  (v 15-23)

Drink form your own Cistern, And Fresh water from your own well” (v15)


Song of Song – 4.15 – You are a garden spring – A well of Fresh water…”

Keeping Purity in behaviour and Relationships.

This is an issue that is not limited to time past!

A Good well in Eastern times was protected with your life. It was the most valuable possession. Many tribal conflicts arose in the OT over wells. Even today wells are a source of both blessing and contention. 

See Genesis 26v18ff about Isaacs wells.

A well was protected by Tribal people – to protect the source

They knew it was good

They new it was trustworthy

They new you had to go deep, dig deep to get the best, cleanest water

It was hard work to dig a well, and keep it, and protect it.

You did not allow just anyone to come and take of it

Jesus and the women at the well..

Remember Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski

Monika Lewinski was unknown! Before their immoral behaviour

Was it good for you Bill?

His wife? His daughter?

“They wont know” – the whole world knows!

Remember what Jesus said – about adultery in the heart – Matthew 5.28

Just looking…

David and Bathsheba

Samson and Delilah

Solomon and his pagan wives

Billy Graham – NO!!!!

The wife is seen as a blessed fountain

To satisfy and refresh - She is a well – protect her and yourself

Be satisfied with what God gives you – every area of your life !

Some young people – we have all been young – ask the question  ”how far should I go..?”

Wrong question!!!  Would you say that about a cliff edge? How far shall I go???

Proverbs emphasise is on Joy and danger..

The would focuses only on pleasure – not personal responsibility and danger.

Remember the Golfer Tiger Woods..

Pollute a well and the whole community will get sick!

There is hope for all of us..

No one is innocent from offending God or others..

Thoughts and Actions are emphasised by Jesus

Jimmy Carter – Ex President USA:

“I have looked at a lot of women with lust, I have committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows about this. And will forgive me…”

Psalm 51v1012

Create in me a clean heart, O God

And renew a right Spirit in me/Steadfast Spirit

Do not cast me away from your presence, And do not take your Holy Spirit form me

Restore to me, the Joy of your salvation, And sustain me with a willing Spirit

We need the Breath of God – like Adam in the Garden of Eden!

How do I stay out of trouble?




Remember this:

Rejection of God brings 5 areas of Disorder to a Nation:

Sexual Disorder

Economic Disorder

Social Disorder

Spiritual Disorder

Family Disorder.

The work of Christ and the Gospel brings hope to a person/Nation


SUNDAY 6 JUNE 2021 Speaker: Clarence Spracklen


Reading:          Proverbs 4


The influence of a father is one that is irreplaceable.  The greatest tragedy in the history of our nation is the ever-growing number of absentee fathers.  Sadly, there are those in our nation that are trying to destroy the very fabric of our society, the home as God has designed. Take the home away, and you destroy the nation.  Take the father away, and you destroy the home.

Dads, we need to take seriously are calling to be Godly leaders in our home.  The future of our children depends upon us.

  1. Get Wisdom (Verses 1-9)

Here the father encourages his children to get wisdom.  Some children don’t like to hear Dad say, “Now back when I was a boy…” They will say Dad “You are out of date; it is different today” but they might learn a lot if they paid attention and listened.  Wisdom comes from listening. (Jesus at the temple as a child – Luke 2:46-47 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and questions.”

The father learned wisdom from his father and now he’s passing it on to the next generation.  It is God’s primary way for His truth to be preserved and invested from generation to generation Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

The key to having wisdom needed to live in this world is found in listening. Dads, teach your children to listen. Teach them to think through things and ponder and meditate.  Teach them to listen to God. You may say that your children won’t listen to you. They are rebellious and will not do anything you say. Dad, are you listening? Remember we teach by example.  Our actions speak louder than words.  Are you listening to your children? Do you take time to listen to what they have to say? Do you seriously and honestly listen to their concerns and their fears?

Are we to busy?

scoffing at that heritage and abandoning it for the way of the world.

Verses 10-13

But wisdom will also save you.  Wisdom gives life. The beginning of such wisdom is the fear of the Lord.  Apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no wisdom.  It is impossible to know how to live without knowing the giver of life in a real and personal way.

Dads, teach your children by example. Fear God. Make your relationship with Jesus the top priority of your life. A father who does not know Jesus can teach his children how to do lots of things, but he will never be able to teach them how to truly live.

  1.  Avoid what is evil (Verses 14-19)

Once again, we are given two options for how to live – the way of the foolish or the way of the wise.

The Teacher is contrasting the two paths, wisdom and folly. He calls his son to listen and hold on to instruction (10-11,13).This isn’t any instruction but instruction based on God’s Word. We are to study it, all of God’s Word the Bible today. As parents and grandparents, we to need to ensure that we study bible daily if we are going to be an example to our children.

We should be their role model by how we live and treat others.

Show your children the kind of friends they should have by being a true friend to others. Teach them to be careful who their friends are and teach them by example the kind of friends they should have.

  1. Obeying God’s Will (v 20-27)

V 20-23 Guard your heart

How do we guard our hearts? -

  1. Be careful to what you hear. (ear)
  2. Be careful to what you see (eyesight)

What we see and hear affects how we think and how we live.  We are to teach the things that are pure and holy and right.  It is only God’s Word that we can keep our hearts pure.

V 24 Guard you mouth.

All through Scripture we are given warnings to be careful with the words we say (mouth). Our words can bring both life and death.  They can encourage and strengthen life or they can destroy a life.

We can speak gossip or lies and destroy or we can speak grace, truth, and encouragement.

Who can you speak and encouraging word to today?  Who can you tell “You know I really appreciate this about you?

  1. Stay focused (v 25-27)

Finally let us stay focused. 

We are encouraged to keep our eyes fixed straight ahead. To not look left or to the right, but to stay focused.

There are many distractions along the way in our world today.  Many things that can pull us away from what is right and good. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.

As parents we need to strive to be just like Jesus, so that our children will have a good example to follow. 

In concluding, there are many lessons that as parents we can teach our children.  We have looked at just a few.  My encouragement to all of us is, to begin with a personal relationship with Jesus.  The most important thing of all is to believe on the Lord Jesus as one’s personal Saviour and to live like Him.

Such a person can be the greatest dad or mum of all.


 30 May 2021  Speaker: Crawford Telfer     The Holy Spirit – Sent at Pentecost

Rivers of Living Water  John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them."

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

WE’VE BEEN LET OUT!                                                                                                                                              I wonder how many of us, these past two weeks, feel as though we’ve have been let out of prison – even if we still have to wear these masks and keep our distance – but hopefully not for much longer.  Last week we had our first home group actually in a house, just 5 of us – but it was great.

SEPARATION                                                                                                                                         One of the toughest aspects of this pandemic over the past year has got to be the enforced separation from friends and family. To be deprived of the caring touch, the brotherly hug, the friendly handshake, the helping hand, the loving kiss, and playing with the grandchildren, is really hard to bear. Zoom and Skype and WhatsApp have been a great blessing and are definitely better than the alternative – but they’re not a patch on the real thing.


Jesus spoke many times to his disciples about his death and resurrection and then his departure from the planet – and separation of the most painful kind.                                           

I guess at first they thought – ‘oh that’s not going to happen just yet – he’s only been us with a short time’ – and I guess they put it to the back of their minds – no need to worry just yet – plenty of time.

But then as he kept reminding them, they’d realise – ‘oh dear this is going to happen much sooner than we thought!’       And you can imagine what went through their mind – ‘He’s going to leave us – this man we’ve walked and talked and eaten with, who has shown us what God is like, who has done amazing, miraculous things. This man we’ve come to depend on so much and who has loved us as no other, and whom we have come to love and know for sure is the Messiah. He’s going away – how will we cope?‘   What desolation they must have felt, what forsakenness, what isolation.


  But then Jesus tells them this – recorded in John 14:16-18  "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

Now I don’t suppose the disciples at that time really understood what He was talking about.  

So what was he talking about?


He was taking about an event which had been forecast centuries earlier, an event which after the death and resurrection of Jesus is the most significant event in the history of the church - and sadly today is often forgotten or neglected.  

Jesus was talking about a seismic event which was soon to be fulfilled – as prophesied by Joel in 2:28-29  "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.”  


Now you may ask, why was this so significant? Hasn’t the Holy Spirit always been present on the earth?      Yes of course He has - going right back to the very act of creation itself!  Genesis 1:2 tells us: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Since the beginning of time the Spirit of God has been at work in many ways:

  1. He reveals the Messiah to the world,
  2. He brings people to the new birth.  
  3. He empowered those in the OT, whom God had called people to carry out his purposes. 


There are many accounts of the Spirit ‘coming upon’, ‘resting upon, even ‘rushing upon’ those God had chosen for specific tasks.      Here’s a few examples: Isaiah: The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, he said, because the LORD has anointed me (by His Spirit) to proclaim good news to the poor.  And you’ll remember Jesus quoted this about himself in the synagogue in Nazareth.    

Then there’s King David, when he was anointed as a young shepherd lad by Samuel, we are told ‘the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him’.   Then there are the Judges – most famous was Gideon, and we read how the ‘Spirit came on Gideon’.

The thing to note is the Holy Spirit didn’t come upon everyone – only a chosen few and mainly prophets, priests, judges and kings. 


But all that was to change on the day of Pentecost, a day which heralded the beginning of a new era and the birth of the church. 

No longer would it be a chosen few who’d experience the power of the Spirit, but men and women of all classes, all ages, all races and all nations.                                                   


And here’s the really significant thing: No longer would the Spirit just be ‘with’ or ‘upon’ them.    Now he would also be ‘IN’ them.

Jesus described it brilliantly in our text -  John 7:38-39 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


  Do you notice the difference? This was no longer the Spirit resting upon, or being ‘with’, but something much more wonderful: the Spirit being ‘within’.                                                                    John described it more fully in John 4:14 where Jesus is talking to the woman at the well about how the water from the well would leave her thirsty, but the water He gave would satisfy that thirst for ever, so that she need never be thirsty again. He tells her: “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


This is at the very core of Christianity – Christ, our Lord and Saviour coming to live, NOT with or beside us as some invisible external presence, but within us IN our hearts by his Spirit.                        As Paul says in Galatians 2:20   “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”.

A MOMENTOUS EVENT                                                                                                                                       So we come to this momentous event, forecast by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11  ‘ . . .after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.’

This event would give birth to a new family, a new movement which would increase and spread throughout the whole world – it would come in as many shapes and sizes as there are varieties of people! And they would also meet in a huge variety of buildings, from a home on a council estate to a mud hut in the middle of the rain forest, from ancient churches in pretty villages to huge auditoriums that seat thousands. 

The one thing they’d all have in common and which would bind them together with bonds far stronger than flesh and blood, would be the Spirit of God within them. We know it as ‘Church’.

THE GREAT DAY ARRIVES                                                                                                                   Let’s remind ourselves of what happened on that momentous morning, from Acts 2:1-4  When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

. . .and we know what happened next!

Now filled with the Holy Spirit and now with great boldness and Peter and the disciples came out of hiding and preached the gospel and 3,000 were saved in one day. And from that point on they began to really understand all the things Jesus taught them. 


Now this filling, this ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ has been a controversial subject in past years – even causing division within churches . . . and it may be you’ve heard about this and been put off.

So I want to clarify one or two misunderstandings which have lead to confusion and hurt and has even damaged the faith of many genuine Christians who love the Lord.

The first one: You may have heard it said that:

‘you’re not a real Christian unless you’ve

been baptized, or filled, with the Holy Spirit’.

If that is so then the OT saints such as  Abraham, Jeremiah, Moses, King David and all the prophets and all the judges, in fact all of God’s people, could not have been true believers because none of them had that experience.  

Neither could the disciples in the NT, at least not until Pentecost.  But we know that’s not true – just look at Peter  and the great confession of faith he made about Jesus:

‘you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God’

At that time he and the other disciples had not yet been filled with the Spirit, BUT the Spirit had been clearly at work, bringing them to the new birth – which is quite a separate experience from being FILLED with the Spirit.

‘No-one can become a Christian without the

Holy Spirit being at work in their lives.’


Another error, is the awful idea that those who have had this experience of the ‘filling of the Spirit’ are somehow superior to Christians who haven’t. They don’t understand that the Spirit is not given as a reward for being especially holy or for having reached a certain level of maturity or commitment. 


Many in the church in Corinth HAD been baptized in the Holy Spirit, yet there were problems related to that which Paul had to sort out. So he taught them how to handle the gifts, the importance of having order in their services and so on. They certainly were NOT superior to other fellowships.

There was a lack of love and concern for their poorer brethren, there was gross immorality, divisiveness, factions and Paul had to be stern with them, and then he reminds them of what was most important – and we have that beautiful Chapter 13 on love.


One more misunderstanding is that every Christian is filled with the Spirit automatically at conversion. The truth is sometimes you are filled and sometimes you aren’t but whenever it does happen you ARE conscious of it.

This is really important so let’s take a look at a passage which clarifies this: Acts 19:1-6  While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"

 They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.


So here’s Paul, meeting some followers of Jesus, but there’s something about them that makes him ask a question – does he sense there’s something lacking that should have been there? He already has a fair idea of what it probably is – so he asks ‘did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’  And the answer they give reveals the problem. They’d had inadequate teaching – to the extent that they don’t even know there is a Holy Spirit and so their experience of Christ in their lives is virtually zilch.


So we can reasonably assume Paul then explains the way of salvation more clearly, so that they now understand, and fully believe and are ready for water baptism in the name of Jesus,  identifying with his death and resurrection.

And we think – good they’re now fully fledged, baptized believers in Jesus, all done and dusted, God bless you dear brethren, keep the faith and good-bye.


And for many Christians today, that’s where they’re at. They’ve been converted, believing in Jesus, utterly dedicated to following Him, faithful in serving him, BUT there’s that sneeking sense that their experience of being a Christian isn’t perhaps what they had expected or hoped.

If they’re honest, that spring of living water doesn’t seem to be springing up very much. ‘The Christian life, is more endured than enjoyed’.  And the things of God, it seems as though they’re from another world. 

And inside they’re asking ‘IS THAT IT?’   And of course the answer is NO that’s not it – there is more. Paul hasn’t finished with these disciples – there’s one more thing that needs to happen. So he lays hands on them, and the Holy Spirit fills them, and the evidence that he has, comes out of their mouths as they begin speaking in tongues and prophesying.


These disciples weren’t filled with the Spirit automatically when they believed. It was something God did when Paul laid his hands on them.   

Also it was clear to everyone that something had happened – there was evidence which everyone heard.

The same thing happened in Acts 8 – Philip and Peter and John were preaching in Samaria, and among the new converts was a magician called Simon. Now when Peter and John laid hands on the converts so that they were filled with the Holy Spirit, something clearly happened – and Simon saw it, and wanted to buy whatever power it was that very evidently affected them.


This ‘receiving the Spirit’ was a distinct event, there was tangible evidence.

Remember we’re NOT talking about salvation here, but we are talking about something which God wants to give every believer, and what for many today is missing - largely because it isn’t preached, and the church has suffered as a result.

The power is not there, the fire is burning low, the joy has evaporated and in its place has come dependence upon technique, on professionalism and talent, on man’s efforts to do what only God can do. Please don’t take my word for it – check it out for yourselves in your own Bibles.    


I became a Christian when I was 17, and learned about the Holy Spirit from others in the fellowship. They had received their ‘baptism’ and as they talked about it I knew I really wanted that too.  I felt I needed it. And so I prayed and read all the books and had friends pray and lay hands on me, not just once but a number of times - but it never happened. And then about 2 years after my conversion, one Sunday night I was with some friends in the village where I grew up, and they decided to pray and lay their hands on me and this time something did happen.

I became very conscious of God’s love for me – more than I ever had before, and as they prayed I cried and began to softly repeat a foreign sounding word. I never really thought anything of it, I was sure I’d just made it up.

But some time later I came across that word in my Bible – it was maran-atha – and beside it was the translation - it was actually two Syriac words which mean, ‘The Lord is coming’.  I was shocked and excited. There was the evidence – two words spoken in tongues.


I just need to interject here to say the Bible does NOT teach that speaking in tongues is the only evidence of being filled with the  Spirit as some have taught. 

BUT, it does teach in 1 Cor. 12:7

‘to each one the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for the common good’.

And then it goes on to list the many gifts and activities of the Spirit which are distributed throughout the body of Christ for building it up and for mission.


So what difference does it make when Jesus baptizes, or fills us with the Holy Spirit? Well the transformation in the lives of the disciples on the day of Pentecost gives us a terrific clue!

Here were those followers of Jesus who’d been hiding away in an upper room for fear of the Jews, now, newly filled with the Spirit their fear has gone and they’re filled with boldness and power to proclaim Jesus.  Peter preached fearlessly because the Spirit within had given him this tremendous assurance of God’s presence, of the fact of Christ’s resurrection, and of his love and forgiveness and of his eternal destination. 


I think, from my own experience assurance is one of the biggest blessings. Jesus is no longer someone you know ABOUT, but someone who is IN your heart.

You have an assurance in your heart of his love for you.  

And that consciousness of his love casts out the fear, it gives you a boldness to witness, to share your faith. It also gives you a sense of security, that you’re in God’s hands,  that nothing can separate you from His love. 

There’s a lot more could be said but we don’t have the time.


Our text for today began with the invitation –

‘let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink’.

I think we assume this is primarily an invitation for the unconverted. But Jesus was speaking to the people of God who worshipped every sabbath in their synagogues, and who had cime from far and wide to Jerusalem for 8 days of religious festivities. 

His invitation was then, and is today to ‘anyone’.  No-one is excluded – those of faith and those of no faith or other faiths. 


. . . that they are THIRSTY.  Thirsty for God, thirsty for more of Jesus, to know him better, to love him more. They are the ones who will be filled with rivers of living water – the Spirit.

They will be filled to overflowing  bringing refreshment, life, the very presence of God into their families, communities and fellowships.    


And here is the question: Are you thirsty? Are you thirsty enough that you will seek God and keep on seeking him for this filling, this baptism in the Holy Spirit, that is clearly promised in the scriptures to everyone who believes.

And if you don’t have this thirst – this thirst which paradoxically is the most satisfying thirst we can experience - are you willing to ask the Lord who alone gives us this thirst ?

How often I have to do this – when I’m dry, distracted by the lure of other things, when my love has grown cold,  and He has always answered – the thirst has returned and the rivers of living water start flowing freely again.


Lord Jesus when you went back home to heaven you gave the disciples something far better than your physical presence – you came and lived in them through your Spirit. Thank you Lord that their experience can be ours too. Not just once, but every day. May you fill us and empower us to bring glory to your name, knowing that it’s not by might or by power but by your Spirit.   AMEN


Proverbs 3     Speaker:  Peter Atwill.                            - Sunday 16th May 2021  

This chapter contains wise counsel from a Father to his Son. Twentyone times throughout Proverbs we find "My Son".  Follow Gods counsel.

When we have a particular portion of scripture it's always wise to look at what's gone before and what follows:- chap 2v8 - God protects our path.  Chap 3v6 - God directs our path.  Chap 4v18 - God perfects our path.

Having just re-read Pilgrims Progress I would emphasise the need to keep on the path through which God will lead us. How are we to do this?  It's all here in the first eighteen verses of Proverbs 3

Vs 1-4  Learn Gods word. Keep focus.                                                                                                                                                                                             Vs 5-8 Obey Gods will. Give all attention.                                                                                                                                                                                 Vs9-10.  Use Gods wealth, First fruits. All you have.  Leviticus 23. 1 Corinthians 15 vs20  Beware of the " Bigger Barn syndrome”.

Vs11-12.  Heed Gods warning. Law v Love.   Chastening is not punishment.

Vs13-18 Seek Gods wisdom.    Be active as you search for knowledge and wisdom.  Prov 9 v10  gives us the origin of wisdom and knowledge. What is the difference between wisdom and knowledge.  Anyone through study and education can gain knowledge but wisdom comes from Gdod.  Knowledge deals with facts. Wisdom reveals the truth. Knowledge tells us why things happen. Wisdom tells us why it happened.  Knowledge pulls things apart. Wisdom brings things together. Knowledge can make a living. Wisdom can make a life.  Knowledge looks at prices. Wisdom shows us values. Knowledge shows part of life. Wisdom reveals all of life eternal. Knowledge studies the world. Wisdom reveals the next world.

How then can we gain Gods wisdom?  

Learn Gods word.  Obey Gods will.   Use Gods wealth.  Heed Gods warnings.  Seek Gods wisdom.   God opened heaven to say:- " This is my beloved Son, listen to him!"  

Jesus said " I am the way the truth and the life no-one comes to the Father except through me.



9th May 2021   Speaker: Peter Cresswell

Proverbs Ch 1  Wisdom     

Practical skills for living well and long in God’s good world

 God’s Wish for you. vs 1-6

How?      Exodus 35 v 31 – 35 the master craftsman completes a masterpiece, the picture with a lesson. So what is wisdom?

Wisdom for discernment – skilful mastery of life –Mental Health!  Discipline (instruction) –self-control for successful living –temper, passions, appetite, tongue etc.  

 Understanding – insight, ability to make right choices, sound decisions. 

  Instruction –produces righteousness, justice, equity –living well in the community.                                                                                 Prudence – discretion, foresight, open to correction and right persuasion

  Competence – how to apply these ‘tools of the trade’ to daily life

What God wants to give you the tools and for you to make a masterpiece–   a happy,  a successful  life!

God’s way for you v 7

You are God’s creation in His ordered created world, a New Creation to make a difference in the now disorderly world – chosen for the task!    The fear of God is the key to a close walk with the Lord.   Reverence and awe; loyalty and loving dependence                      “can two walk together unless they are agreed” Amos 3:3  

  Agreeing with God , that is how the new life begins and flourishes.

  The essence of sin, of the fool, is disagreeing with God . Teachability –“hear,listen,receive,increase,value,don’t neglect,don’t forsake” cultivate a sense of His presence, it is His world.   What comfort to know and realise you are on His side and He yours.

The world may call us “losers”. Truth is, it’s the winning side, already won!

God’s warning for you v 10-19

In God’s eyes, we are living where foolishness and fools abound, ‘tho they often profess to be wise. Be wise to their enticements

Because God’s enemy is ours too, beware of the enticing business. Its determined work is to separate you from Jesus, sow seeds of disagreement. v11 “why don’t you” – come with us there are pleasures & treasures v13 “why can’t you…”have the fun we’re having – easy ways too”    v14 “why aren’t you one of us –why be different an odd one out”   v15 – 19 don’t go down that road, what the world values is fake. Its  “pleasures” don’t last, its treasures don’t produce what God can give freely. What did the Lord call the rich man who lived for “eat drink and be merry”.

God’s amazing condescension –v 20-33

Wisdom – comes down to earth and takes on flesh and calls out, wisdom personified (see ch 8). Who can this be? He is soon to be revealed!

It is a matter of life and death that is why the Lord comes

Where does she call? v20,21 wherever the people are “ho everyone”   

  Who does she call – “the simple” – careless, gullible, ignorant,  The “ scorners” – arrogant, self-opiniated,                                                 The “fools” –“there is no God” those who live life  as if there were no God.

  How does she call, urgently, vociferously, passionately, reasoning etc “Turn” v 23 be sure that help is at hand to change your life

 So “Choose Life why choose death?”  “How long do you have?” Is the plea, what kind of fool chooses death?

The Rejection, v 24-33 solemn words. Sudden,   Overwhelming,   Too late,   brought it on yourself, only got yourself to blame. Hear and heed the voice of Jesus.


Luke 1:46-55. Mary’s prayer       Sunday 2nd  May 2021  Speaker:    Mike Adams


Did you think Christmas had come already when you heard the reading? These verses contain Mary’s well-known response to God following the confirmation that she would be the mother of the coming Saviour/Messiah. Her initial response to the angel Gabriel who visited her was one of submission/acceptance. She has now taken the hint from Gabriel to visit her older relative Elizabeth who was now pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth’s pregnancy a surprise gift from God as she was elderly and barren but Mary’s is in a different category and Elizabeth is inspired (verse 41) to recognise and confirm it. Mary’s baby is Elizabeth’s ‘Lord’ (verse 43) and she shares in the humble joy of the meeting. The following verses are Mary’s response in the form of a poem or song. Known to the Christian church as ‘The Magnificat’ from the first word of the Latin setting. A frequent component of liturgical worship (e.g. the Anglican prayer book evening service). Often sung – one of a small number of New Testament ‘songs’. Borrows heavily from various Old Testament passages including various Psalms and Hannah’s song in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

1. Praise (verses 46-49)

‘Magnifying’ – a good translation. ‘Glorifies’ in some versions but could you explain what that means? We magnify something to make it appear bigger. So Mary has/wants a bigger view of God and wants Elizabeth to see it too. A supremely wonderful thing that God has done for her. Realises that generations to come will see that she has received a great blessing. It’s all about God. He is her Saviour; she is a humble servant; he has done great things. Amazed and thankful that God should be working through her. In one sense, a difficult thing; likely that Joseph doubted her faithfulness/morality to begin with and others may well have sneered in disbelief and disgust. But she knew this was immense – a turning point in history (see verses 32-33). All about God and the coming King. She would have been horrified that anyone would think to magnify her – God is the source of all blessings for her and for us all.

2. Pattern (verses 50-53)

Mary sees a pattern here in what God is doing. What He is doing through here is typical of how He has acted through history. He shows mercy to those who fear Him (v.50) – note from generation to generation; raises up the humble (v.52) and fills the hungry (v.53). By contrast, He scatters the proud (v.51), brings down the mighty (v.52) and bankrupts the rich (v.53). A great bible theme and perhaps the dominant idea in her song. A major theme of Proverbs in its description of real wisdom: Prov 8:13; 11:2; 15:25; 16:5, 18-19; 21:4; 29:23. As James and Peter would later write: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

(a) Many biblical examples of how God deals with the proud. Examples include: Nabal (1 Sam. 25:11); Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:28-37); Pharisees (e.g. Luke 18:9-14)

(b) Why does God oppose the proud in this way? Essentially a violation of the first commandment. An attempt to dethrone God and put self at the centre. We are not made for this – bad for us, a distortion of truth, beyond our capacity. An affront to God who made us and gave us the abilities we have. Yet often viewed as a ‘respectable’ sin by us.

(c) How God helps the humble and needy. Many biblical examples. Psa 40:17; Ruth and Naomi; Moses, Jeremiah (‘who am I’; woe is me), David the overlooked shepherd. The pattern of Jesus with the tax collectors and sinners. The Samaritan woman at the well. 1 Cor 1:26-29.

(d) Why does God help the poor and needy? It is not simply that God is on the side of the underdog – His help is for those in a relationship with Him: (1) fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; (2) he dwells with the humble and lowly; (3) those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the poor in spirit are the subjects of His provision. We have to feel/understand that we are poor and needy in order to enter such a relationship.

3. Promise (verses 54-55)

So how is Mary connecting this to her own circumstances? She understands that God is acting to fulfil His covenant promises. To rescue and build a people. This is not just about personal blessing for Mary or even personal salvation for those who trust the coming Saviour. Israel and Abraham. NT tells us that Abraham’s children are all those who share his faith. But these are a humble and despised people. Strangers and pilgrims in a hostile, proud world. One story linking the Old and New Testaments that is being achieved through this coming baby, Jesus. And he is doing this not by coming to the rich and famous but by being born into a working family in a rural backwater. The almighty God, eternally rich and glorious, becoming a poor dependant man with nowhere to lay his head. Seen by so many as a nobody. A life consistent with the message.

4. Some applications for us

(a) As individuals: God is working to demolish human pride. We need to face up to the damage we do through our own pride. The gospel calls us to be humble/submit/realise our weakness and dependence. Pride is a very subtle sin – a matter of the heart, not just the conduct. One of our greatest battles.

(b) In the church: how we evaluate people. The standards we set. The sort of people most often saved. The care we are to show to the needy. Don’t adopt the world’s values and heap praise on the outwardly prominent and ‘successful’.

(c) As we face the world in its opposition and hostility. As the people of God, we are small and increasingly despised. Easy to become disheartened. But God has His plans and there is coming a day when He will judge the world in righteousness and the first will be last and the last first.


The Road to Emmaus  Luke 24:13-32    Sunday 11th April 2021   Speaker: Dave Bracey

Opening Slide  A true fact about Charlie Chaplin is that he once entered a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest and came third.

Slide   Sometimes we can all fail to recognise somebody we should know.

Well, we’re going to read today about an incident in the Bible that tells us something about God’s heart for his people and gives us some pointers for dealing with hard times, and the story starts with people failing to recognise Jesus for who He is.

Slide   Let’s look first of all as to who these people were and what they were doing there.

Who were they?

Well from the passage we see that clearly both travellers were disciples from the early Christian community. We know that one of the two travellers was called Cleopas, the other is not named and various theories have been raised at who the second person might be. Some commentators suggest that it could have been Luke himself due to the clarity of his description of the evening, but most commentators think this unlikely. My favourite theory is that the other disciple is Cleopas’ wife.

Slide  John 19 v 25

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 

The spelling is slightly different but many commentators believe that Clopas and Cleopas could be the same person. In which case the second person could be Mary his wife. That’s the view held by both the Catholic church and the Orthodox church. Another piece of evidence that may support this theory is that when they get to Emmaus they urge Jesus to stay with them in what sounds like a private house, so this may hint at them being a married couple.

So, What Were They Doing?

I think that they were throwing the towel in, admitting defeat, washing their hands of this discipleship business and returning to their old home to pick up the threads of their old life.

They had just been through the worst days of their life. Jesus was gone and worse than gone they probably thought that he had proved to be false. For surely the Messiah wouldn’t die? Didn’t the scriptures say that the Messiah would abide for ever? They felt utterly sick at heart - all their hopes and dreams were dashed. They felt foolish as they had wasted months, perhaps up to three years of their life following a dream that had indeed turned out to be nothing more than a dream.

Slide  Luke 24 v 15 – 16

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

The Shepherd has found his scattering sheep. This tells us something of God’s heart for us. Imagine what the risen king of the universe could have been doing that first day after He rose from the dead. What choices he had. Well, He chooses to go find his fleeing and grieving disciples and comfort them and put them back on the right road.

Remember, how earlier we saw that this was probably the worst day of those disciples’ lives? If they had just known it, it was actually going to be the best day of their life. They would see this shortly, but not yet. We live life looking forwards, we understand it looking back. If they had not known the great sadness with which they started the day, they would not have received the great blessing they received later in the day.

Now Jesus chooses to prevent them recognising him. Suppose that he had allowed it, can you imagine how excited they would have been to see him? They wouldn’t have been able to focus on what he was saying or retain it and so they would have missed out. Jesus wasn’t being cruel is allowing them to walk in sadness, he wanted the best for them and that best was to understand and to grow, before they experienced the closeness of his presence, because in the long run they would be more blest that way.

It’s interesting isn’t it? If Jesus were to give us the choice of a wonderful worship service where we could be so close to him and feel his presence, or of a deep Bible study where we would find out more about him, which would we chose? The praise party or the Bible study? Well for these two disciples Jesus made the choice for them and he chose the Bible study. That they should understand more about him before they had the joy of experiencing his presence. Perhaps that is the choice that Jesus makes for most Christians. Perhaps this is one reason why we don’t go to Heaven the moment we come to Christ. We are given the opportunity to walk the road of this life with our Saviour learning and growing even if we don’t see that that is happening, When the time is right, we will be translated from this life to the next. We will find ourselves in the presence of our Saviour and realise that he was with us all the time, but that we should never have gained all that he had taught us without that walk in which we were prevented from recognising his immediate presence but were nevertheless learning.

Slide  Luke 24 v 19 – 24

 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

Slide What the two disciples say is revealing. They are honest, they don’t try to sugar-coat anything. But you can feel the weariness and the defeat in what they say. Perhaps even more revealingly is what they don’t say. Because their grief and exhaustion has made them forget

  • Firstly, they have forgotten that Jesus is the Messiah. They call Jesus a prophet. They no longer say Jesus is the “Messiah” or “Christ.” They’ve lost faith. They’re finding it too hard to believe. It’s too dark. Jesus is dead he must have just been a prophet like the prophets of old who died. He can’t possibly be the Messiah chosen by God. The Messiah is supposed to come and liberate his people, and Jesus is dead.
  • Secondly, they have forgotten what Jesus said. More than once he had told the disciples that he was going to Jerusalem that he would be put to death but that on the third day he would rise again. Yet in their sorrow the two disciples had forgotten these promises,
  • Thirdly they had forgotten what their friends had told them, the testimony of other disciples. True they had remembered the women’s account of what they found at the empty tomb but their memories are selective because in just a few verses (v34) they’re going to remember that Jesus had already appeared to Simon Peter.
  • Fourthly they have forgotten the Bible (or the Old Testament part of it which they had) as there are verses in the Old Testament (such as Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53) written hundreds of years before, that described with amazing accuracy what would happen to Jesus and what they knew had happened over the previous few days.

We may feel that these disciples have forgotten an awful lot, but they didn’t have the advantages that we have of knowing what would come next. But let me confess that even with those advantages I so often find myself in the same position as these two disciples. I sympathise with them; I see so much of myself in them and their struggles.

So often when events don’t turn out as I expect I have a tendency to forget all of God’s faithfulness in the past, all of his promises to me, even what he said about how things would be in the Christian life. He tells me that if I want to live a Godly life that I will be persecuted, but when I face persecution I’m asking ‘God where are you? Why is this happening to me?’.

Slide Luke 24 v 25-27

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

Now the term Jesus uses here for foolish is not unkind. It’s the Greek word anoetos, which means without reflection. He’s saying something like ‘You’re not thinking this through’ He doesn’t use a harsher term such as moros, meaning dull, stupid or foolish. which He warned against calling anyone in Matthew 5:22.

So, “What is the Bible about?”  The Bible is about Jesus. 

It’s not a reference book, it’s not a book of examples to live up to, it’s not a to-do list.  It’s not a list of rules and regulations. It’s about Jesus.  Because it’s about Jesus that means that it’s about grace. It’s about how God loves his people and how God saves and rescues His people. It’s a true, historical story with a plotline.  That plotline is creation, fall, redemption, consummation.   J.R.R Tolkien calls it the eucatastrophe – the story behind the Gospel, he said.  How the King has come back is the one story behind all the stories that we’ve ever loved. 


Have any of you read any of the works of Dorothy L Sayers? she lived around the same time as C.S. Lewis and was a friend of his.  She was very, very smart.  Like most of us, she learned Latin when she was six.  She was also one of the first women to receive a degree from Somerville College, part of Oxford University.  She wrote a lot of books but she was most known for detective fiction. In her fiction the main detective she wrote about was Lord Peter Wimsey, many scholars that have studied her writing say that as she wrote about Peter Wimsey, she fell in love with him.  And so later on in these detective fictions there was a new character introduced by the name of Harriet Vane.  And Harriet Vane is one of the first women to be awarded a degree from Oxford University and she also writes detective fiction.  And so, you see what Dorothy Sayers did, she created someone, a character, that she came to love so much that she wrote herself into the story and ultimately these two fictional characters get married.  In the same way, God our creator loves us so much that he wrote himself into the story.  He became part of his creation, he became a man, that he could rescue us, redeem us and make us his own.

That’s what the Bible is all about and that should make our hearts burn within us, just like it did for the two disciples here.

And their hearts did burn within them. Once they understand how all of Scriptures points to the Messiah needing to suffer and die and rise again it changed everything. They believe! They understand! Of course, the descendent of Eve would be struck by the serpent, of course, it was the Father’s will to crush him for our iniquities, of course, Jesus is the one and final sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world. Of course, he was the suffering servant by whose wounds we would be healed, Of course, the resurrection happened because that was the plan all along. 

Slide  Now the story could have ended there.  Luke 24 v 28 - 29

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

These two disciples asked Jesus to abide with them, they importuned, they urged him strongly - What if they had not asked Jesus to stay with them? The opportunity may have been lost for ever. The Greek word prospoieomai used here indicates that He really was going farther, and would have gone on had these two disciples not constrained Him.

I think that there is a spiritual lesson for us here.  Isaiah 55 v 6. Tells us to ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near’ and Jeremiah 29 v 13 tell us ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’.

So many people who really met with Jesus, who received his help, who saw his power, so many of those people were characterised by being desperate to meet Jesus. They were willing to pay a price to meet with him. They sought him, and importuned him. They were not luke-warm or apathetic in their seeking. They went all out to encounter Jesus and to receive his help. Think of Jairus, the lepers, the woman who had been ill for many years, the Centurion and so many others. Just like them, these two disciples really wanted to have more of Jesus.

Slide Luke 24 v 30-31

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 

So, once they sat down to eat, their guest did something very strange, something that at first sight would have seemed rude or presumptuous.  He took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them. It was not the job of a guest in the home to do this, these were the tasks of the host, but in that familiar act they recognized Him. And, of course he was the host, even in their home. Perhaps there is another lesson here, it’s when Jesus is the host, the head of our home that we get to see him more clearly.

The moment they recognize Him, He vanishes. The Greek word aphantos, which occurs only here in the Bible, indicates that He became invisible, not that He actually left the room. Perhaps when these disciples had left to go back to Jerusalem and report what they had seen, He continued, on His journey down the road, or perhaps invisibly He walked back to Jerusalem with them, at the moment we don’t know. Perhaps one day we will.

SlideSo, What Does This Mean For Us?

Slide Remember

When we feel battered by events and by this world. It is helpful to take a breath and think back on all that God has done for us and all that he has done for others. Do you remember the old hymn ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one’? Well, there’s wisdom there, because seeing God’s faithfulness over many years puts today’s troubles into perspective.

Slide Devour the Scriptures

When God seems far away. Read his word. Everything we need is in the scriptures. We just have to see it. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

So, if today you’re lacking hope, if you’re lacking joy, if you’re discouraged, if you’re in hard circumstances - what Jesus wants us to do is to go back to the Word.  To have confidence in the Word, to understand the Word and believe what the Word says about himself. And the Holy Spirit will be at work in you. Even if you can’t feel Him at work immediately, He will be at work in you. His intention is to do with you just what Jesus did with the two disciples on the Emmaus road. He’s taking people that are sad and discouraged and finding it hard to believe and He’s taking them from brokenness and discouragement to joy and hope and renewed faith and a closer walk with Jesus than they would have had if they had never been through those hard times.

Slide Seek Christ with all your heart.

God has said you will find me when you seek me with your whole heart. So, we must ask for a thirst and a hunger for God. For God will reward those who diligently seek him. Now as fallen human beings our emotions run hot and cold and by nature, we have a tendency to lukewarmness and apathy. So, ask God that you will have a hunger for Jesus, a thirst for Jesus and God will be pleased with that prayer and he will answer it.

To Sum Up

  • We’ve looked today at two disciples who were discouraged, sad, depressed and in the act of throwing the towel in.
  • Jesus showed his heart for them by seeking them out, although he had many other things he could have chosen to do that day.
  • His answer to their sorrow was to take them back to the scriptures so that they might know him. We can do that too.
  • But they played their part by wanting his presence, by choosing to have him in their home and because they did, they were allowed to know Him even more. We can do that too.


  4th April 2021 Easter Sunday  Luke 24:1-12  Speaker: Crawford Telfer

 “Parting is such sweet sorrow’! A famous line - from a famous play – by a famous writer. Yes, it was Shakespeare, spoken by Juliet as she bid her lover  Romeo  ‘good night till it be tomorrow’.   Well I suppose since their separation was so brief, their sorrow could be considered ‘sweet’.   For many of us this past year, the enforced lockdowns and separation from friends and family has been anything but sweet, and tragically for so many, it has not been for just a night but for ever – or has it?

For the women who came to the tomb on that resurrection morning, they believed their parting from Jesus was permanent. This Jesus who had turned their lives upside down and whom they’d come to love and worship as the Messiah - he was dead. They’d seen him die with their own eyes, and now they’d come with their shattered dreams and broken hearts to embalm his body. He couldn’t after all have been the messiah they’d been so sure he was.

But then, quite literally in a flash of brilliance – their sorrow turns to indescribable joy as two angels tell them ‘he’s not here – he has risen!’  And then it all comes back to them – how Jesus had told them  at least three times that he would be put to death, but would rise again.

So you can imagine they’re in a complete tizzy as they rush back to the disciples and blurt out the news – but to the disciples, they’re talking a load of crazy nonsense. Actually the word Luke used implies they thought they were ‘delirious’.

But one of them doesn’t – Peter.  Suddenly he’s on his feet, running as fast as he can – he’s remembering some of the things Jesus had said – things that sounded weird at the time and he desperately needs to find out – could it be – could it all be - true? Hoping against hope he races on, possessed by the need to find out.  And then the memory comes flooding back - the painful, agonizing, gut wrenching memory of what he did that cold evening only a few days ago as he stood warming himself by the fire in the courtyard of the high priest’s house.  It wasn’t as though he’d done it just the once,  not even twice, but three times. Three times he’d openly denied knowing his Lord – the very last thing he would ever have dreamt of doing. But by far the worst of it wasn’t that he’d done it, but that the one He had loved and now disowned had heard him do it, and when Jesus turned and looked straight at him – that look, that steady, unblinking look as his eyes seemed to see right in to the very depths of his soul - he would take that look to his grave.      

I wonder what you think was in that look. Your answer is an indication of how well you know Jesus. Do you imagine it was a look of sad disappointment – ‘ah Peter, you’ve really let me down?’ Or was it a reproving, stern, angry look? Or maybe a cold stare of rejection – ‘forget about being my disciple Peter you had your chance and you messed up – you failed’. For many believers, sadly, that’s how they see Jesus, and it poisons their relationship with God, it poisons their relationships with others, and it poisons the fellowship of God’s people.

But that wasn’t what Peter saw that chilly evening. It was a look which spoke volumes to Peter, a look of understanding – ‘yes Peter, I see your heart, I know that you mean well, that you really do love me, don’t despair, one day when my Spirit fills you, you will boldly preach  about me to thousands, and one day you will die, for me’. There was no condemnation, no anger, no rejection, but pure love, love that melted Peter’s once proud but now humbled heart, that drove him outside where he wept his bitter tears in private.  It’s never the anger or  sternness, or even the holiness of God that changes us, it’s his love, only His love can melt the hardest of hearts.

I’m sure that’s why Peter was in such a mad rush to find out if the women’s report was true:  that this man he now knew he couldn’t live without was not dead but alive. And when he saw the empty tomb and the grave cloths lying neatly folded – the assurance exploded in his heart, ‘yes it’s true, it’s all true  – my Jesus has risen from the grave’.  And he stood there marveling at what had happened, and at what it all meant. 

That’s what we all need to do - take a fresh look at what this Easter Sunday means, especially with what has been happening around the world this past year. The message of the resurrection is the one message the world needs to hear and God’s people need to be reminded of. So let’s  spend a few moments looking at why we need to be reminded . . . .

First of all if there is no resurrection then everything we have believed is a lie and we have been deceived. As Paul tells us in 1 Cor 15:19 ‘If only for this life we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied’.  I’ve heard people say that even if Christianity is not true – they would still choose to live as though it is. It sounds very commendable, very noble, very righteous, but what’s the point? If Jesus did not rise from the grave then it means we have prayed and sacrificed and given our lives to serve a lie. It means we’ve been tried and tested, struggled against temptation, shunned by friends and family and for many, suffered persecution and death – all for nothing.  No wonder Paul, who knew more than most about these things said we are of ALL people most to be pitied.

 But then he adds -  ‘But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.’

The resurrection means that Jesus is indeed who he said he is and that everything he said and did and promised is true and not a lie. We could spend months looking at this – but the bottom line is that – Jesus Christ is to be trusted, trusted to have taken away our sin, trusted to hold us in His grip and to bring us safely home when we breathe our last. The great shame is that we trust him so little.

Let’s look briefly at some other ‘glorious consequences’ of the resurrection:    

Not since the second world war have we been reminded every day that we are mortal beings destined to die. This time though it’s not bombs and bullets, bayonets and torpedoes, that are killing us, it’s something so small we can’t even see it. Covid 19. It’s not surprising that fear of death, what Psychologists call ‘death anxiety’ is surging right around the world and is having an impact on people’s mental health at levels not seen for a very long time.      

he message of the resurrection of Jesus Christ means we don’t need to be afraid of death.  Hebrew 2:14 tells us that Jesus: ‘by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.’

I remember one summer driving along a country road with my dad, and all of a sudden he swerved and nearly ended up in a ditch. ‘I saw it, I saw it’, he cried. ‘What did you see?’ I asked him – I was well and truly shaken.  ‘I saw a magpie – a single magpie!’ Well you may know the superstition about magpies – one for sorrow two for joy and so on – well he explained that the last time he’d seen a single magpie, his father had died that year!  He thought this magpie was a sign that this year his number was up. Well, he survived many more years, despite the magpie and  triple bypass surgery. The fear of death – it affects us in many ways we may not even be conscious of.

Many of you will know of Joni Eareckson Tada, Malcolm and I have had the privilege of meeting her several times. When she was 17 she broke her neck in a diving accident and was left paralysed from the neck down – she’s now 72 and she said this: ‘For me, the death and resurrection of Christ have removed every ounce of fear from death. The Grim Reaper is no longer the heinous, sharp-fanged, menacing monster it used to be.’

Psychologists tell us that the fear of death is at the root of most of our phobias! Jesus came to die and rise again so that we need no longer be bound by the fear of dying.    

The resurrection means that death is not the end of the story, but the crossing over to life in a new dimension – life which will never end because there will be no time as we know it, no yesterday, no tomorrow - but an eternal NOW in the presence of God.  Life is not some pointless, purposeless accident. We are not the random product of the collision of cosmic particles.  As Paul says in Ephesians 2:10 ‘we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’  The word ‘handiwork’ in the Greek is ‘poiema’ which gives us our English ‘poem’. If that doesn’t give us you sense of purpose, a reason for living  – nothing will!

The death and resurrection of Jesus is God’s response to all our questions that begin with the word ‘why’.  It’s a response that God planned before the cosmos even existed. 

One of the things we have to come to terms with is that God doesn’t always explain himself.  And so we refuse to trust God unless he does explain himself and we can understand everything he does:  Why did God let my child die at the hands of a drunk driver? Why was a Godly young pastor struck down with cancer and the church robbed of someone who’d have been a great blessing?  Why does God let 2 thirds of the world endure hunger and deprivation while the rest is overfed and drowning in stuff they don’t need?   Why did God let this Pandemic happen?

Up and down the land preachers preach and theologians write their books, offering up their answers: ‘it’s because we’ve done this, its because we haven’t done that, it’s a judgement, it’s a warning, it’s punishment, it’s God’s will’ and on and on it goes – and somehow the answers they give seem trite. They don’t scratch where we are itching.  Going back to Joni Eareckson, she was often asked ‘why do you think God let you have that diving accident and become paralysed?’ And for a while she thought she had the answer as she discovered a world of opportunities opening up for her as a quadraplegic artist, writer and speaker, increasingly in demand. People loved to hear her positive, God affirming messages – ‘we know that in everything God works for good to then that love him.’  But in one of her books called ‘A Step Further’,  she described how she began to meet Christians who were also paralysed from the neck down, but they didn’t have a loving family to look after them. Some of them lived alone in the most appalling circumstances – and as she visited them and saw their circumstances her pet answers began to fall apart. Then she described how she came to understand the true meaning of faith, and it’s something we should all write in the front of our Bibles: ‘faith means trusting God when you don’t know the reason why’.  Isaiah had already said the same thing thousands of years earlier when he wrote in Ch 50:10 ‘Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.’

And there’s only one way we can do that - by going back to the focal point of history, when God demonstrated his love for the world when He came to earth to die, and three days later rise up from the grave.  The Apostle Paul - persecuted, imprisoned, lashed with the whip, beaten, shipwrecked, before he was martyred wrote this, referring to his experiences: ‘Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles!!  that’s how he regarded all his sufferings for the Gospel as ‘light and momentary troubles’ and then he says why he regarded them as such: because  - they are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 

And that’s from 2 Cor.4:16-18   How much we need to visit and revisit the foot of the cross and the empty tomb – because there is THE answer to our deepest need which is to know that behind whatever happens, is God who LOVES this hurting, crying world, and not only that but WITH us in it all. Which brings us to the last of these ‘consequences’ of the resurrection.

At the end of Matthew’s gospel the resurrected Jesus and the by now 11 disciples are together on a mountain by Galilee. It’s there that Jesus authorises them to go and make disciples from every nation, baptizing and teaching them about himself. They’ve no idea what’s about to happen. They’ve no idea that Jesus is about to leave them and return to his Father in heaven.  And then as though to prepare them for it he tells them something that – well it’s almost too good to be true – recorded in Matthew 28:20 ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."   ‘I am with you always’ – literally in the Greek, ‘I am with you every day’.  I am with you every day by my Spirit  whom I will send to you when I return to the father. And the full meaning of that would become crystal clear on the day of Pentecost which was only days away. From that point on, every believer would be able to experience the presence of Christ in their hearts by His Spirit right down through the centuries to this present moment: Easter day in the year 2021 in Edington in Somerset.

The reality of the presence of  Christ in our hearts is the most powerful and convincing evidence that he rose from the grave and is alive today, and we shall never be parted from Him.

The words of the great gospel song written by Alan Jackson are gloriously true:                         I serve a risen Saviour, He's in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him He's always near

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life's narrow way
He lives, He lives, Salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

Let’s pray.

Lord Jesus you said "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

Lord, whatever we are going through, whether it’s joy or whether it’s sorrow, whether it’s a time of hardship or a time of plenty, or whether it’s neither but just a steady keeping on going, may your presence in our hearts so fill us with your peace in these tumultuous days that people will look and ask us – ‘what is the reason for this hope, this peace that is in you?’  And for those who don’t yet know you, or only know you a little, may you draw them after yourself and reveal yourself to them so that they too may have that life changing assurance that you are alive.

Lord Jesus you told us that: “In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good courage! I have overcome the world”



Sunday 28th March 2021                                                 Speaker: Shane Goodyear

Genesis 49:8-12

FCF: We do not expect leaders who are powerful, to protect and want to enrich us. 

Intro: ask questions


Bible: Jacob’s death bed scene

Judah’s testimony:

V8: Judah’s descendants are going to receive praise and subdue His brother’s enemies.

E:  Judah’s  descendants are going to be the rulers of their brothers descendants and subdue their enemies  (Bow down)- rulers, praise (for Judah’s leadership)
P: Joshua invades the promised land- however Joshua fails to get rid of all the Canaanite tribes who were God’s enemies because they did despicable things- things I cant say here because children are in the room- after Joshua’s  The Israelites seek God to see who should go up first to push back the Canaanites and take their land- God chooses the tribe of Judah to do this- and they do it to a certain degree and liberate parts of the promised land- Judah’s tribe leading other tribes to subdue God’s enemies or as Jacob puts it ‘Judah’s hand will be on the neck of your enemies’ and because of this the rest of the Israelites will see Judah’s descendants as a ruler over them- Judah’s tribe will be a ruler who will protect God’s people from their enemies and drive their enemies back. 

L: we don’t expect our leaders to protect us

P:  YouGov app: back in October 63% of people in this country believed the government was not do enough to protect people from catching covid 19 and it is roughly the same number believed the same if Sir Keir Stamer was PM- there will be some in this room from countries where you have actively seen your leaders take public money and force you into situations that where dangerous for you and your family.

So at best many of us don’t see our leaders as being able to protect us and at worse they are there to abuse us- but not so With Judah’s tribe he is there to rule over God’s people and to drive their enemies away from them to protect them.

V9: Judah is going to be a powerful ruler, like a lion

E: Jacob is now describing what kind of leader the tribe of Judah will be by using the picture of a lion

P: you have a lion waiting in the long grass seeking and searching out its pray- stalking every move of its pray crouching down just before he pounces to totally tear to pieces its pray—no one will dare to rouse a lion in this state, unless you had a death wish, why because this lion is powerful, wise and methodical it catching and devouring its prey. This is the sort of leader Judah will be a powerful ferocious leader in protecting his brothers against their enemies in battle.

L: we don’t expect powerful leaders to protect us and at worst we see them as devouring us.

P: my mother protecting me  

This is what this protective leadership looks like

V10: Judah’s future descendant is going to be God’s future king  

E:  the Sceptre ( denotes rule and upholding justice) picture of old English kings and queens holding this on documentaries- and the nations of the world will obey Judah’s descendant as he will be the righteous ruler who deals justly with the nations   

L; we don’t expect our leaders to bring us justice

P: many prophets in the OT talk about this king coming, especially in depressing awful times in Israelites history: Is 2: he fortells God’s king coming on a mountain where the nations will come to and this king will settle disputes between them and they will smash their weapons into the ground- when Isiah said this Iseral itself was in a desperate situation with bad evil and power hungry rulers and their enemies surrounding their borders and seeing their brothers being wiped out by those same enemies- but still the promise of this king from Judah’s line stood and it still stands today- the only difference is we are looking at it from the other end waiting for jesus to return

P: Jesus is this promised ruler- who is powerful and good who will protect his people and crush their enemies and the nations have and will flock to him and justice will eb done- we will see this more later how he does this- but there is also another startling thing this says about Judah’s descendant Jesus and what he will do for his people

V11-12:  Judah’s future descendant Jesus will bring in a time of prosperity

E: this king will bring in a time of future prosperity and enrichment for his people

L: we don’t expect our rulers to prosper us and to treat us extravagantly

P: tether donkey to the vine/his colt to the choicest branch ( a donkey will be tied to a vine and a branch- this is a sign of prosperity because vines where there to make wine and wine made you money and if you tied your donkey to it  will eat the grapes and you would lose money- but in this age when Judah’s descendants rules it wont matter because there will be loads of vines so you can afford to allow  your donkey to eat of it ) He will wash his garments in wine his robe in the blood of grapes ( washing his clothes in wine- bathing in it- this is an age of such prosperity that wine is used to laundry detergent)

P:what we are seeing here is God’s king from Judea- Jesus bringing in such a time of prosperity for us that it is extravagant- it is a time of wealth and prosperity all under the protective good rule of a just king

Adam:- called to rule, ended up neglecting that big time- sinning against God and then blaming his wife- and we see people in Adam’s era getting steadily worse killing each other and enriching themselves

Judah: does not start that well: selling his brother into slavery- getting his daughter in law pregnant but we see aft that incident he grows in character and pledges his life for his younger brothers Benjamin’s both to his father and to Joseph- and this leads Jacob to pronounce this blessing on him about his descendants.

Judah’s tribe: God calls them in judges to lead the mop up operation of the rst of the cannites and they are also called to bring Judgment on the Benjimites another tribe of Iseral because of the evil acts they did in judges- seeing Judea partially fulfil this role of leadership amongst his brothers

Judah’s king David:  started off really well- a man after God’s own heart- gave God people rest from their enemies- brough in a time of wealth and prosperity for the Iseralites- conquered Jerusalem and expelled some of the last of the cannites tribes and brough back the symbol of God living with his people the arch- however- human frailties got to him and he became a murderer and a adulterey even though he was forgiven

Solomon  so there was high hope for his Son Solomon  God gave him wisdom and iseral got wealtherier and wealthier- he was seen as just ruler who will protect his people however again he was lured away by idols and the pleasures of the world and in the end it looks like he feel away from trusting in God and this lead to the Iseralite kingdom going into civil war with the 10 tribes of Iseral in the north and Judea in the south- oh no what is going to happen to God’s king

Judea’s kings: most of them where bad- persecuting the prophets stealing private property of their subjects and generally supressing the people and leading into worship of false God’s which even required some of them to sacrafeice their children and after 100 years of this God’s people where thrown into Exile, but they would return to the land

Jesus: And it was a few hundred years after they returned to the land the king came


  • drive out demons
  • heal the sick
  • commanded nature
  • defeated our greatest enemy death by his resurrection

Protection and justice

  • he will not leave the guilty unpunished
  • he called out abusive leaders who used their power for their own advantage
  • he warns us against false taechers
  • he protects us from the eternal consequences of our sin


  • we will rule with him one day
  • we will inherit the earth
  • there will be a time when all different nations will come to him to worship him and we will have a world without disease hatred and pain




21st March 2021 - Speaker :  David Willis  Luke23:23- 43  The Crucifiction of Christ


The thing I love about Luke’s writings, as he gives us an ‘orderly’ account of Jesus’ life in this gospel and then outlines the beginnings of the Christian Church in the Acts of the Apostles, is the amount of detail he includes.

In the passage before us today we look at the number of people who are mentioned and how he paints with words an amazing picture of the scene as Jesus is led out to be crucified at Golgotha, which is aramaic (John 19:17) for the place of the skull (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15), Calvaria in Latin, hence our word Calvary. A friend of ours, Julie, who came to the Lord when we were at Wellsprings Chapel said when she first started coming to church, she couldn’t understand our obsession with carveries! Of course, she later came to understand we were speaking of the place where our precious Saviour gave up his life for each one of us.

At the beginning of our passage we find Jesus travelling along what has become known as the Via dolorosa – literally ‘sorrowful road’, or ‘way of grief’, indicating Jesus’ route from Pilate’s judgement hall to the place of his crucifixion. It was common for the criminal who was being led out to be crucified to have a placard hung around their neck outlining their crimes. Jesus could possibly have had the sign saying ‘this is the King of the Jews’ hung around his neck as he took his journey, before it was nailed to the cross on which he himself was nailed.

The Scene

With the words of Isaiah 53 ringing in our ears we view what was surely one of the saddest scenes in history. As a modern Christian song puts it:

‘I cast my mind to Calvary

Where Jesus bled and died for me

I see his wounds, his hands and feet

My Saviour on that cursed tree’

Mel Gibson’s 2004 film ‘The Passion of Christ’ focused very much on the physical suffering of Christ, ‘the most punishing depiction of the crucifixion ever mounted…the much talked about brutality is unflinching’ said the Radio Times in one review. However, Leon Morris reminds us in his commentary on Luke that ‘the New Testament concentrates on the significance of Jesus’ death, not on harrowing our feelings’.

So, while it is right that we understand the physical suffering that this scene portrays, we ought to be concentrating more on the spiritual suffering that Jesus endured as he cried out, ‘My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?’ and what lay behind this scene as Jesus gives his life as a ransom for many.

This scene was what the whole of Jesus’ life had been leading up to, in fact this scene is what the whole of history had been leading up to.

Imagine the comments, the emotions, the disappointments that were probably being shared among those involved in that scene. Many probably would have thought along the same lines as the two walking on the road to Emmaus did when they later said, ‘but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel’ 24:21. Others were probably saying to themselves ‘I always thought he was a fraud’, as the shouts go up, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One’ 35. Dreams were shattered! Hopes were dashed! Doubts were confirmed!

The Characters

But what about the characters and the part they played in the scene before us?

The Roman Soldiers. Just another day’s work for them as ‘They (the soldiers John 19:16) led him away’ from Pilates Judgement Hall. Later we read ‘the soldiers also came up and mocked him, saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself”, before offering him wine vinegar to drink’. Yet if we read on to 47, we find Luke records the Roman centurion praising God as he says ‘Surely this was a righteous man’. We aren’t told anything more about this Roman soldier, but one wonders how his life could ever be the same as, in the death of Jesus, he recognised God at work.

Simon from Cyrene. Here we have a man from Cyrene, modern day Tripoli, in Libya. He had most likely travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, and as he made his way into the city from the country, he finds himself unexpectedly caught up in the drama of Jesus’ journey to Golgotha. John records that Jesus went out carrying his own cross, but when the burden became too much for him Simon was picked at random by the soldiers and forced to carry the cross. As an occupied country any citizen could be immediately pressed into service by the Roman authorities – it wasn’t a good idea to argue with them! This is what happened to Simon, but while the soldiers may have picked him at random, surely God had a hand in this, as undoubtedly his life was changed that day, as he came into contact with Jesus. Mark 15:21 tells us he was the father of Alexander and Rufus, who were clearly known in Christian circles at a later date, so it is highly likely that he became a follower of Jesus.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him 27-31. Any event like this would draw a crowd, especially in Jerusalem at Passover time. No doubt you will have seen on TV a funeral from the middle east which is very different to the sober way in which we conduct ourselves in this country. Their funerals processions are very noisy affairs with their grief being shared with anyone in listening range. We might have a few quiet sobs, holding ourselves in check, whereas there is no holding back within that culture. In some instances, professional mourners were hired, but that wouldn’t have been the case here, these were probably people who were genuinely grief stricken by Jesus’ treatment.

Surprisingly Jesus, who has been generally very quiet during his arrest and trial, stops and speaks to the women who followed, addressing them as ‘Daughters of Jerusalem’. This is the first of three times he speaks in the passage we’re considering today. As Jesus speaks to these women, he turns the attention away from himself and to them as he says ‘do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and your children’. He isn’t saying he doesn’t want their sympathy, but he is saying they need to think about themselves, their futures, and their relationship with God. Jesus knew what the future held for this great city of Jerusalem as within forty years of his death it was besieged by the Romans and the temple was destroyed. He paints a picture of how dreadful it will be at that time, so much so that people will wish that they were already dead, using words from the prophet Hosea 10:8.

Several suggestions have been made about what Jesus means in 31, but it seems most likely that he’s saying if they (the Romans) treat me, the Messiah, like this when I’m innocent, what will their treatment of the Jews who are guilty and deserve it be.

Two other men, both criminals. How do you react when you’re in a tight spot, when you’re cornered, when you know you’ve been caught out? It’s easy to become defensive, or to lash out, which is what one of these criminals crucified alongside Jesus does. He had nothing to lose, his life was done, so he decided to join in with the mockery of this man who claimed to be the Messiah but was doing nothing about it, who was going meekly to his death without putting up a fight. He said to Jesus if you’re the Messiah save yourself and us! This belligerent man strikes me as being very selfish, even here as he faced death, he is thinking of himself, and not thinking like his colleague on the other cross that they were there because they deserved to be!

The other thief seems to have used the time of his impending death to focus on things that mattered. He recognised his guilt and that he deserved to be where he was, but also that Jesus was innocent and didn’t deserve to be where he was. It was as he faced death that he speaks about fearing God. He says to his compatriot, ‘don’t you fear God’, presumably meaning that he did.

We don’t know what his understanding of theology was as he hung upon the cross, or even his understanding of Jesus’ person and work, and his ability to save. However, there is enough to indicate that he realised that Jesus’ death wouldn’t be the end of everything for him, and that beyond death Jesus would have a kingdom. There is certainly a sense of repentance, a recognition of God, who should be held in awe, and of Jesus who could take him into a better place following his death.

Jesus speaks again as he issues those wonderful words, ‘I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise’ 43. We haven’t got time to look more deeply at the meaning behind Jesus’ words, but let Leon Morris sum it up as he says, ‘Jesus assures this man of bliss in the immediate future, a bliss closely associated with himself’.

The rulers. There were others involved in the scene before us that we haven’t had time to consider in detail. There were his accusers, (the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders Matthew 27:41, Mark 15) who sneered at him, and the people who stood watching and joined in with the insults. But there is one character who we haven’t really considered, Jesus himself – the central character.

Jesus – the Central Character.

After Jesus was crucified, hung up on the cross to die as a common criminal he uttered one of his seven cries from the cross 34. It was a cry, a prayer, that some early manuscripts didn’t include and some have wondered if it was because the early copyists decided to omit the words on reflection that perhaps God had not forgiven the guilty nation! However, there are enough manuscripts with it included to acknowledge it as genuine. Yes, Jesus really did pray, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’.

So, we have seen Jesus give a warning to the Daughters of Jerusalem to prepare for coming doom; an invitation to a penitent thief to join him in the bliss of paradise; and now a prayer to his Heavenly Father to forgive the perpetrators of his cruel death for they were doing it in ignorance. Although he was most likely thinking of his Jewish accusers and the Roman authorities who had put him on the cross, we recognise now that it was also our sin and the sin of the whole world that had put him there. How wonderful to know that his forgiveness stretches to us all.

Not only did Jesus show his love and compassion for sinners as he died as a sacrifice upon the cross; he also left us an example of how to react when we suffer on his behalf.

1 Peter 2:21-25 shows us how Jesus responded to his abusers as they hurled their insults at him. What restraint, what humility, what trust in his Father (‘him who judges justly’). We can learn so much from him as we meditate on this passage we have thought about together today.


But in conclusion what have we learnt today that can make a difference in our lives? What is God saying to us, by His Spirit, through this passage?

The old spiritual asks the question, ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’. No, of course we weren’t, but what happened on that cross is as significant to us today as it was to those who witnessed those events all those centuries ago.

It is significant to us because in the central character of the scene shared by Luke we see:

  • The supreme sacrifice for the salvation of sinners, as Jesus shed his precious blood, in bearing our sins in his body on the tree.
  • The forgiveness and compassion of Jesus for all who will turn to him in faith and repentance.
  • The warning of what awaits those who don’t prepare for the coming judgement.
  • The example of how to respond to insults and abuse as followers of Jesus who take up his cross daily.

May God give us grace to live in the power of the cross as we daily seek to draw nearer to him. Amen!



 14th March 2021 – Luke 22:63-23:25    Speaker:  Bert Weenink

INTRO: I guess that most if not all of us will be familiar with the details of the events leading up to Easter. It is possible to be so used to the story that we fail to be moved or even shocked by what we read.

Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1-3   1:9   1:14    The Word became flesh – Jesus, God in the flesh! The night God was arrested! Suddenly the events sound incredibly shocking. God became man and this man was betrayed by one of his followers, he was arrested by a mob, he was disowned by Peter and forsaken by all. That leads us to the passage we are considering this morning.


Jesus, the Son of God, was humiliated by His guards

These were servants of the high priest, who gave our Saviour no respite after his sleepless night and before his upcoming trial. They mocked the Son of God and beat him. They blindfolded him and demanded that their creator would prophesy and tell them who hit him. According to Jewish law, not even serious criminals were to be treated like that, but this is how Jesus, the Son of God was treated. Isaiah 50:6 “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.”

Jesus, the Son of God, was falsely accused by the religious leaders

Here we see our Saviour standing before this kangaroo court of chief priests and teachers of the law. They asked a simple question: 22:67a ‘…’ It was an important question. Jesus could simply have said ‘yes’ I am, but He was blatantly open with the full significance of who He was: 22:67b-69 ‘…’ Although Jesus describes Himself as the Son of Man, the position at God’s right hand made it very clear how He saw Himself. 23:70 ‘…’ Oh, how blind the Jewish leaders were, they knew the Scriptures, but did not recognise the Messiah. Listen to what Jesus said to them as recorded in John 5: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Herod uses Jesus, the Son of God, for his own entertainment

We will not waste too much time on Herod as Jesus ignored him completely. The Jewish leaders made more accusations against Jesus, but Herod just used Jesus for his own entertainment. Herod was aware of Jesus’ reputation and was hoping for a miracle or at least some clever answer, but Jesus did not say a word. We read how Herod and his soldiers then ridiculed and mocked the Son of God and then sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate condemns Jesus, the Son of God to be crucified

Pilate saw Jesus briefly before he sent Jesus to Herod. One of the questions Pilate asked Jesus was “are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so”, Jesus replied, which simply meant, ‘yes I am!’ When Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate, we really get to know what sort of man Pilate was. He wasn’t nasty, but he was weak. He did not dislike Jesus, but was afraid of an uproar among the crowd. He was convinced of Jesus’ innocence, yet handed him over to be crucified. He was the Roman governor, supposedly in charge, yet he was a people pleaser. Even his wife pleaded with Pilate to let Jesus go. It is only Matthew who recorded that she sent Pilate a message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him,” but Pilate ignore her.

Even Pilate’s master stroke did not work. We read in Matthew about the governor’s custom to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. Barabbas probably stood against the Romans, as he possibly was a member of the Zealots, a Jewish revolutionary group, but in the process, Barabbas had committed murder. Who do you want me to release: Jesus or Barabbas. 23:18

Mark records: What shall I do then with the one you call the King of the Jews? “Crucify him!”

“Why? What crime has he committed”? But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Isn’t it shocking that a crowd of religious people would like to see a common criminal released, while they demand the death of their Creator, their God, their King?

How do we respond to this true story that we all know so well?

  1. Humility

On the one hand I emphasised the need to be shocked at what happened to Jesus so many years ago. At the same time, we need to be humble and admit our own part in His death. It may shock us to me reminded of the fact that Barabbas was released while Jesus was crucified, yet the essence of the gospel is that Jesus was condemned, so that we could be forgiven. Jesus suffered, so that we could be blessed, Jesus died, so that we could live. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

  1. Thankfulness and joy


And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Saviour’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That you, my God, should die for me?


He left His Father’s throne above,
So free, so infinite His grace;
humbled Himself in all his love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
What mercy this, immense and free;
For, O my God, it found out me.


No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness Divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own


The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.


Sunday 28th February Morning Service.  Speaker: Don Morrison

Luke 22:47-62 - Jesus arrested

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’

Peter disowns Jesus

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant-girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’

57 But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don’t know him,’ he said.

58 A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’

‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied.

59 About an hour later another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’

60 Peter replied, ‘Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ Just as he was speaking, the cock crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows today, you will disown me three times.’ 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.


This passage gives us Luke’s narrative of the arrest of Jesus

We read about the betrayal of Jesus by Judas - one of his closest friends

We read about the failure of the beloved disciple Peter to live up to the rash commitments he had earlier made – ‘even though all the other disciples may desert Jesus – he never would’

And we read of how Jesus responded as he approached his hour of greatest trial

Now there are many ways we could approach this story to see what we might learn from it

I would like to spend a few moments reflecting on it in terms of the main characters in the story – specifically Judas, Peter and Jesus himself.

What does the passage teach us about their motivations?

What lessons can we learn?

How do we apply what we discover in our own lives as we seek to live in a way that pleases our Lord & Saviour?

So my first heading is

  1. Judas - The calculating betrayer

If we read all the biblical evidence about Judas – we are forced to the conclusion – to put it in the modern vernacular ‘a nasty piece of work’ – we struggle to find in Judas any redeeming qualities

I suppose the best that we can say is that he was good with money – the only problem is that he was a thief - he was trusted with the money – somebody had to be the keeper of the money bag - so at some point the disciples must have decided that he was the man for the job.

but what do we read in

John 12:3-6  3 Then Mary took about half a litre of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[a] He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Here was a man motivated by money – a man who valued money above all else – above integrity, above friendship, above the Lord Jesus himself.

I wonder if the apostle Paul had Judas in mind when he wrote these words to Timothy

1 Tim 6:10

10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Judas didn’t betray Jesus because of some high-flown albeit misguided principle – no - what did he say to the Chief Priests?

 ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you? Matt 26:15

So here is a man who is consistently evil – for 3 whole years.

Sometimes people of previously good character have a sudden fall, with a dramatic and sudden loss of reputation - Not Judas, here is someone who has engaged in a long-term calculated lifestyle of deception – culminating in the ultimate blasphemy – betraying the Lord of Glory with a kiss.

And the other disciples had no idea! No one suspected him – but Jesus knew.

You remember when Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray him – there was consternation – ‘surely you don’t mean me, Lord’

Apparently, there were no knowing looks amongst the disciples – no one said that’s got to be Judas

And if we know the story we know that Judas life came to a desperate end – almost Shakespearean in its tragedy - with no true repentance for his sins, only remorse for their consequences.

Now how do we apply this to our own lives?

We might feel that Judas was so irredeemably evil - so unlike us in so many ways that there is little we can learn from his life

Let me very briefly mention 2 applications

  1. 3 years in Jesus Company had no effect – Judas witnessed the miracles – Judas heard the sermons, the parables, he spent 3 years in the company of the disciples.

He had the privilege of seeing Jesus at close quarters – indeed he was his friend.

And yet, he was unchanged by it all.

What about you? Christian home – church family. What difference has it made?

  1. Are we what we appear to be? Would people be surprised – possibly even shocked to see how we behave when we’re not in a church context? Judas was leading a double life. Disciples were fooled, but Jesus wasn’t.

Now we move on to another disciple – Simon Peter - unquestionably he was a flawed character – but he repented of denying his Lord

So Judas is the calculating betrayer

but Peter gets 2 headings – here’s the first

  1. Peter - The misguided defender

Peter was outspoken – larger than life character

You might say he was always putting his foot in it

But in the modern vernacular ‘heart in the right place’ – he loved Jesus, but he was always getting things wrong

There is a most spectacular example of this – and ironically it happened just after one of his greatest insights

Jesus and his disciples are in a place called Caesarea Philippi

Jesus asks ‘who do people say that I am?

Then, ‘who do you say that I am?

Peter declares ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’

Jesus commends him, affirms that this is an insight given Peter not by flesh and blood but by his Father in heaven and goes on to explain the he must suffer and die – and poor Peter goes and spoils it all – he rebukes Jesus

Prompting the pointed rejoinder from Jesus – ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’

And in our passage here he goes again – his enthusiasm for Jesus far outweighs his wisdom and insight

They wanted to arrest Jesus – but he was going to take control- and he thought He thought force of arms would do the trick

Listen to what we read in John 18

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’

Application – spiritual battles can only be fought with spiritual weapons – we can so easily forget that we have no power in ourselves to win spiritual battles

Ephesians 6 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms

We want to organise ourselves – to resolve to do better – to plan, to strategize – these are all good things in themselves – but in a spiritual battle it is spiritual weapons that prevail – Feeding on God’s word, prayer, discipleship, fellowship – Ephesians 6  - putting on the full armour of God

But we must press on to our 3rd Heading

  1. Peter - The overconfident denier

Peter had a Mistaken view of his own abilities

Self-sufficient – he thought his own qualities would see him through

He was proud – he disparaged his colleagues

In Mark 14 we read his boast:

Even as we read it we have a sense of foreboding that it will not work out well

I wonder if Peter had ever read in Proverbs 16 18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Peters failure was abject – challenged 3 times – including bya servant girl – and his bravado was shown up for what it was – an empty boast and cowardice

3 times he denies his Lord

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows twice  you will disown me three times.’ And he broke down and wept

By way of application – 2 things we can draw from this

  1. The first is a warning against complacency 1 Cor 10:12 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

Have you been a Christian for a long time – you didn’t keep yourself – because you couldn’t keep yourself?

God kept you – we need to continually remember that what we are is purely by the grace of God

  1. The second application is by way of encouragement – Peter found forgiveness - He found grace – he had messed up big time – but Jesus did not write him off

We read later how Peter was beautifully restored

And as we read on in the New Testament we see how he was wonderfully used at Pentecost and subsequently – he had a lot of lessons to learn, but Jesus worked in his heart and life

And this brings us the final character in our story – Jesus himself

4. Jesus – the self-possessed Saviour

In the story of Jesus arrest and crucifixion we have many authority figures

There were the Chief Priests

There was King Herod

There were the Pharisees

There was Pontius Pilate

There were the Roman soldiers – the occupying army

But there was only one person in charge – the carpenter from Galilee – but the one who claimed to have authority over legions of angels on whom he could call

Notice the pointed questions

  • To Judas ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’
  • To the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 
  • Notice his statement to Peter when he cut of the ear of the High Priests servant with a sword – no more of this
  • Notice his power  - in healing the mans ear with just a touch
  • Notice the effect on Peter of just a look from Jesus – in our Passage Luke 22:61

61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows today, you will disown me three times.’ 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

What a look that must have been – no words were needed

So there we have it – 3 characters

Judas – a thief, a hypocrite, a betrayer who never truly repented and never found grace

Peter – bold brash misguided – but in spite of his failure – his denial of his Saviour  - he repented with tears – was graciously restored and went on to be greatly used in the foundation and development of the New Testament church

And finally Jesus – the one who was in control of it all – in all of the chaos – the confusion – the evil - the injustice

He is utterly self-possessed

He is our Lord and saviour


Victory through Christ           21st Feb 2021 Neil Todman

Romans 8:31-39


I don’t know under lockdown if you’ve watched more TV.  I definitely have.  One series I watched with my wife, Susan, was the Great British Bake Off.   Since I got remarried I’ve watched every series of the Bake Off but here’s the thing: I have never baked a cake in my life.  I’ve seen a lot of great cakes on TV but I’ve never tasted one of them or made one myself.

Why am I telling you this?  I think a lot of us have a similar experience to watching a cookery show when we read Romans chapter 8.  As we read Romans chapter 8 we can see that it is good- arguably the greatest chapter in the whole of the Scriptures.  But that is as far as it goes.  The truths seem so great that they are somewhere out there, and don’t really touch the way that I live at all.

So today I am pleading with the Holy Spirit to help us deal with three blockages in our hearts this morning. 

The first is disappointment.  That is disappointment with ourselves, our lives, and maybe those around us, but ultimately with God himself.  If he is so great then why is my life like this? 

The second blockage is guilt.  Many Christians are guilt ridden.  If we are not careful it gets worse the longer we are Christians.  That guilt can turn what should be a joyful, daily, walk with Jesus into a drudge, where days become weeks, weeks become months, where we rarely draw near to him because we feel so bad.  Why would I want to draw near to God when every time I do I feel so bad? 

The final blockage is fear.  We fear that something in this life will happen that is so bad that we will lose our faith in Jesus, or we fear that in the next life we will be exposed as sinful frauds and sent packing by him away from his love forever.  Fear keeps us from enjoying his perfect love and resting in the assurance that gives us.  When this life is so tough, how can I be sure it ends happily ever after for me?

Today’s passage deals with all three of these blockages-disappointment, guilt and fear- and shouts to our hearts that we can have total victory over them in Jesus Christ.  We can “taste and see that the Lord is good”.  

  1. Over disappointment- verses 31 and 32

These verses are the conclusion of the first half of Romans.That is why verse 31 says, “What, then, shall we say to these things?”Which things?All this good news about Jesus Christ!Paul writes eight glorious chapters that build to these verses.They show in the opening three chapters that we are powerless to save ourselves: our sin runs too deep and our religion can get down far enough to dealing with it.But chapter 3 verses 21 through 24 are a game changer:


  • But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Paul then spells out in the following five chapters how by faith this Good News makes people new, how the Spirit comes to live within all those who trust in Jesus, and is getting them ready for the return of the King when everything- all creation- will be made new.

But, as we wait for that day, how do we deal with the realities of life?Why at times is life so hard?Why at times does God seem so very far away?Why doesn’t he answer my prayers, even when they are for good and unselfish things?Why is life with Jesus so often very disappointing?

We need to learn from Paul here.Verse 31b.Paul knew what it was to have people against him.But Paul knew there was a greater truth still.“If God is for us...” then in the end the opposition we face will not stand.Since, not if, God is for us.(Four times different emphasis on each word)

More than that, if something that we have prayed for was really for the best, then God definitely would have done it.That is the argument of v. 32.God has already given us the best thing that he could.He has given us eternal life through the death of his Son.There is nothing more precious in the Universe to the Father than his Son.But because he loved us so much he gave him up for us.Paul’s argument is that anything else he gives in response to our prayers is far less in comparison.God isn’t holding out on us.For reasons we don’t fully understand, he isn’t doing what we want.But he is doing what is best- for your good and his glory.This is a truth you can live your life on, come what may.

Clover- On the fridge: My heart is filled with thankfulness.

That victory in Christ over disappointment.

  1. Over guilt- verses 33 and 34

Paul here is thinking of the court room in these verses- verse 33- charges are brought.Verse 34- punishment is demanded for crimes committed.

Lots of us love crime dramas.When I was a kid my parents loved watching Perry Mason.He was a fictional defence attorney, and over 135 million copies of novels about him were sold. But what was remarkable was that the ending of Perry Mason stories was always the same.In the final courtroom scene, Perry always produced a new piece of evidence which freed his client and usually implicated someone else sat in the room.Every time, at the eleventh hour, justice was done- the innocent went free and the guilty were punished.

In real life, before God, things are different.There are charges that could be brought against all of us.There are no innocent ones. Paul has already spelt that out in Romans chapter 3: “”

Satan, the accuser, would have plenty to say.But he will not be given the chance.It is God’s court and he has justified me.It is God’s right to punish, and he has taken my punishment upon himself in the person of his Son.More wonderfully still, my defence attorney isn’t Perry Mason, it is Jesus Christ raised from the dead, who is in the position of power at God’s right hand and he is my defence.

Guilt is a crushing thing.I don’t know if you have ever heard the story about the little boy who killed his grandmother’s duck.Do you know that one?He’d gone out with his sling, shot nothing but on the way back into his gran’s house took a pot-shot at her duck and killed it.In panic he hid the duck behind the woodpile, then to his horror turned and saw his little sister, Sally, had seen everything.

After dinner, when his grandmother asked Sally to do the dishes, she said, “Johnny told me he would like to do them”.Then whispered to him, “Remember the duck.”For weeks this pattern carried on, until the boy decided to tell his gran what had really happened.His grandmother said this, “I know, Johnny.I was standing at the window and saw the whole thing.Because I love you, I forgave you. I wondered how long you would let Sally make a slave out of you.”

Some Christians have a lot of dead ducks piled up in the wood pile.Some of them are big sins we are ashamed of.Others are repeated patterns of behaviour that we feel we can’t go back to God with again.We decide we are best off carrying the guilt for them ourselves and somehow trying to make it up to God.We need to hear the voice of God, saying to us, “I know what you did.I saw the whole thing.Because I love you in Jesus, I forgave you. I wondered how long you’d let that sin and that guilt enslave you before you remembered there is no charge and no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus my Son.”

That is where victory over guilt is found.

  1. Over fear- verses 35 to 39

I love the questions Paul raises in this section because the answers are: no one, no one, no one, and no one- verse 31, 33, 34, and 35.There is no person and no circumstance which can separate us from his love.Verse 35b means a lot coming from the Apostle Paul.He had experienced all those things.

Tribulations: all kinds of troubles of this life; Distress: the emotional effects of those troubles; Persecution: the abuse that comes if we faithfully follow Christ; Famine: recession

Nakedness: humiliation; Danger: often as he travelled.But the unexpected accidents and disasters that spring out of nowhere; Sword: war or terrorism, violence

He had been to the depths described in verse 36, as he quotes Psalm 44:22.He had faced death day after day after day at points in his ministry.Had that broken him?No way- verse 37.Then he lists everything he can think of which might snatch us away from Jesus- verses 38-39a- and concludes verse 39b.

We fear at times that there will be something that will take us away from Jesus.It might be something in this life that we imagine we couldn’t live without.It might be someone.But Paul says to those who are in Christ, there is no power in all creation that can separate us from his love.Even the worst things that happen can be used by God for our good and his glory.

Verse 37 is a game changer.Even if following Jesus costs us our lives we are still conquerors.In fact more than conquerors.Literally, super-conquerors.Many of us love superhero films.Some love Marvel, Spiderman, the Avengers and the like.Some love DC, Batman especially.Some love both.The amazing thing is in Jesus Christ you are a superhero.He’s given you your superhero name: Super Conqueror.Pretty cool.That means we can live our lives without fear.Even death is defeated.

But are we convinced?

Steve Levy story- George Jenkins, Tabernacle street


Chris Menzfeld (SGA)– The fear of the Lord         Sunday  14th February 2021                                Prov.2v1-5


Solomon, after stating his purpose 1v1-6 lays the ‘grounds’ of wisdom 1v7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

It’s important to point out in that verse, the close association between wisdom & the Fear Lord…

Let’s pursue God’s wisdom a while – in order that we make the right decisions in life as set out in Proverbs…

By doing so we will understand Fear Lord 2v5 which is the beginning wisdom 1v7


1.To find wisdom we must receive & treasure God’s word v1 “receive & treasure my commands” Is this your loving desire?

Solomon begins this lesson with the words “My son”… in other places he addresses his children 4v1, 7v24

It’s as if Solomon was most concerned for godliness in the family home… MY SON

& when you consider some words of Jesus Mt.12v42 “a greater than Solomon is here” …. & the fact that Jesus “became for us wisdom from God” 1Cor.1v30 & spoke as heaven’s mediator His Father’s words to us…

Then the words MY SON take on a fresh meaning!

i.e. it is the expectation that the child of God has a loving desire to bend himself to his Heavenly Father’s Law!

Is this your loving desire…to receive His word into your heart & to treasure his commands? Lk.10v39, Acts 17v11?

& having received his word, hide it “within” our hearts where no man or demon can snatch it!

In what ways can we receive His word? Is there also a lesson about paying attention in v2?-

2. To find wisdom we must pray! v3 “yes if you cry out… lift your voice” Is this your loving desire?-

Jms.1v5 “If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God”

Prayer – the Christians vital breath! We must lift our voice to heaven…

Do you understand all of God’s word? Then ask God’s help because these are spiritual matters…

Think of Jesus, how He prayed! Look at His prayer – what a prayer warrior! Are we?

He was the Master in the art of prayer & has taught all the greatest intercessors amongst the sons of men – Mayer 1847-1929

Our time would easily go by just looking at the prayer life of Jesus! The gospels are full of His prayers! (LUKE…)

Please read in Luke & look at the occasions when things happened while he prayer Lk.3v21, 5v16, 6v12 , 9v18, 29


3.To find wisdom we must search as for treasure! v4“if you seek her…search for her” Is this your loving desire?

We are to search the Scriptures… SEEK & SEARCH… & you will surely find “treasures” … ‘S’, not just treasure!

This Holy majestic book is full of treasure God & God wants to share it with you! Ps.119v161-62, Is.33v6

Like a miner, we must search hard, dig deep - rarely do we find treasure without gigging deep!

MADNESS not to search         – “The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it” Prov.10v22 (AV)

LAZINESS  not to search          – no one having a Bible is so busy he has no time for God’s word

FOOLISH   not to search – why close the door to God speaking personally to you!

What a wise theologian Solomon was… he had a clear & logical mind… here are two life changing words…

IF v1, & THEN v5…

THEN follows IF & so if we get the IF part right THEN we will understand Fear Lord & be on course to wisdom…

Therefore, let us give ourselves to this spiritual matter!

Fear Lord brings us into the SP realm – FEAR of a special kind – Heavenly dimension – Vertical not horizontal…

We are talking of REVERENCE & AWE

A sense of Majesty when we talk of God or to God or read the Bible or worship…

Fear Lord is not REPELLENT but ATTRACTING – you dare not run away from Him, but only run to Him – Piper

This fear is not an enemy but a friend … because it holds God in the highest esteem – in AWE

We don’t need to be frightened of Him (like children scared of a bully) … perfect love casts out fear

Fear Lord is the mark of Godly men Ex.3v6 “Moses was afraid

Fear Lord was the mark of the perfect Man! Song 5v16, Mt.3v17, 1Cor.1v30

This is Jesus - totally HOLY – Altogether lovely – full of the Spirit and “fear of the Lord” Is.11v2

Are we better than LJ? If He had the Fear Lord, dare we say we don’t need to fear the Lord?

So, what kind of person fears the Lord? Solomon describes Him…  It is the child of God, who, with a loving desire receives & treasures His word, prays much & seeks & searches for wisdom as one looking for the best of treasure Mt.7v24-27…


SUNDAY AM, 7 FEBRUARY 2021 Reading: Jonah 4 •

Speaker: Neil Summerton

 I am aware that this is the fourth in your series of expositions of the book of Jonah, and I have very helpfully been provided with the notes on the previous three teaching. So I am aware that you have probably heard already more or less everything that could be said about the book – or at least that you feel that you have – ‘Oh, no! Not Jonah again!’, you may be saying wearily.

• So I propose to focus quite narrowly on the text of Jonah 4


• But first, let us remind ourselves of the context, in two ways:

The wider context

This has been touched on in all your studies so far. Like very many of the OT prophecies, the context is not narrowly ‘religious’ or personal/individual. The OT comprises three main genres of literature.

(1) History: much is historical account, though not the dispassionate history of today – it is history against the background of cosmic truth about the universe and beyond; events are explained in a wa-y that a modern historian would never attempt.

(2) Wisdom: experience of God in the heart and soul, but very often in the context of real life, like the suffering of Job or the all-too-human and terrible sin of David in Ps. 51.

(3) Prophecy: the message/word of God by his Spirit, but always into particular circumstances, and frequently into concrete political and inter-kingdom circumstances – as is clear, for example, of the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, which simply can’t be understood without taking account of the concrete historical background. As has been pointed out to you, there is very little direct prophecy in Jonah – the end of 3: 4, and the prophetic prayer in 2: 2 – 9. It is much more personal history. But it is personal history in a geopolitical context. Within a century, Assyria (Nineveh) was going to become a major threat to Israel – in fact, about a century later Assyria was going to overthrow Israel and end the existence of the 10 northern tribes for ever (as a result of the latters’ persistent sin and idolatry). o But the times of Jonah were the times of Jereboam II of Israel, a king ‘who did what was evil in the sight of the LORD; [who] did not depart from the sins [of Jereboam I, a founder of the northern kingdom]’, yet a man by whom the sovereign LORD saved the northern kingdom (2 Kings 14: 27). Indeed, Jereboam II widened it to something like the borders of David and Solomon, while Assyria was going through a bad patch – within 30 years to be reversed by Tiglath-Pileser III. Still, the destruction of Nineveh which Jonah hoped to see as a result of his prophecy would be worth seeing in geopolitical terms. It’s not too fanciful to see Jonah as moved by the national success that Jereboam II achieved.

The immediate context

The immediate context of Jonah 4. Jonah cried out his prophetic word: ‘Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ (3: 4). And the last thing Jonah wanted happened. They repented in a remarkable way. You could say that there was a dramatic revival. They fasted, repented in sackcloth and ashes, and ‘turned from their wicked way’ (3: 5 – 10a). And as a result, ‘God relented’ (3: 10b). God demonstrated that as so often in his word, he pronouncements of temporal judgment are conditional: if there is true repentance and turning from sin, there is forgiveness and mercy in God – because mercy is his beloved work and judgment is his strange work, that which he does not want to do if he can possibly avoid it.


• Chapter 4 is a sequel or coda to the book, and the great event of God’s compassion and mercy shewn to Nineveh. It completes the personal story of Jonah, and stands as a warning.

(a) Jonah’s anger

• You would have thought that, as a preacher of Yahweh, Job would have been delighted to see this great city repent as a consequence of his preaching. Gospel preachers don’t preach to see people reject the gospel and suffer the judgment of God; they preach to see people repent and be saved!

 4: 1 – 3 are to my mind among the most appalling verses of Scripture. Jonah reveals astonishing aspects of his attitude and character: He reveals (in prayer!) his motivation all along: ‘... was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? ... in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish’ (v. 2a) In other words, he took the ship to Tarshish, the exact opposite of the direction God wanted him to go in, because he was afraid that if he preached in Nineveh, the Ninevehvites might repent and God might spare them. In other words, he refused to preach, precisely in order to guarantee their destruction by God: he was only interested in preaching judgment and seeing it happen, not mercy resulting in salvation. Jonah did this not in ignorance or self-deception. He did it, knowing that he was flying in the face of God and in rank opposition to what he knew clearly was the character of God: ‘for I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.’ (v. 2b) Jonah’s thinking, inspired by the belief that only the Hebrews deserved mercy and not anyone else, was frankly depraved, consciously depraved.

He so angry, so disconbobulated, by what God had done that he wished to commit suicide, to die rather than live: ‘please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life’ (v. 3). And consistently so: Jonah ‘begged with all his soul to die, saying, “Death is better to me than life.” (v. 8 – and also v. 9).

And all this was against the backdrop that God had intervened when he was on his way to Tarshish, caused him to be thrown off the ship, possibly drowned to death, saved by a great fish, spewed out on the beach, and possibly brought back to life, and in spite of the promises which he had made to God in those circumstances: ‘I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD.’ (2: 9)

• Have you ever read a book, watched a film, or watched the news, and wanted to shout out in rage and frustration? I think that these verses want to make me rage, ‘Jonah, are you mad? Have you gone nuts?! How can you possibly think and speak like this, after all you have gone through, after God’s mercy, grace, and kindness shown to you? Can’t you see that you need to show the same grace and kindness to others.’ One is reminded of Jesus’ parable of the unjust steward. Yet God responds patiently, ‘Do you have good reason to be angry?’ (and one rather suspects that Jonah’s answer was an angry ‘Yes’!) (v. 4)

• Except, ‘let him that standeth take heed lest he fall’! I ask of you to think within the quietness of your heart of hearts, have you never been angry with God?, whether about the way he seems to be treating you or yours, or about the principles on which he seems to be acting. Have you never consciously resisted, or disputed with, God? Have you never quarrelled with God (even Job did!)?

(b) The lesson of the plant, gourd, or vine

• This bad-tempered conversation with God took place while Jonah was still in the city (v. 5). But he then went out into the wilderness to the east of the city, put up a booth, and settled down to ‘see what would happen to the city’. Perhaps he still hoped that God would change his mind and judge the city.

• God then mercifully provides a plant of some kind to provide more shade for Jonah ‘to deliver him from his discomfort’ (v. 6). ‘And Jonah was extremely happy about the plant’. But then God tests Jonah by causing the plant to wither, perhaps to find out if Jonah is still angry – as he certainly is. Jonah has an anger problem in spades, with plants (God’s creation) as well as with God!

• God’s purpose in this seems to be to try to expose to Jonah his extreme selfishness, that his focus is on himself, his comfort, and more widely his determination to get what he wants. One wonders whether Jonah repented and saw himself as God saw him. We are not told.

(c) The compassion of God

• It is God, not Jonah, who has the final word in this prophecy. And that final word is about the compassion, lovingkindness and mercy of God, not judgment. • This is the central message about God in this 8th century BC prophecy, the same as God revealed to Moses on Sinai: ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger [unlike Jonah], and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving inquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty ... to the third and fourth generation.’ (Ex. 34: 6, 7) – a Scripture that Jonah was perfectly familiar with as Jonah 4: 2 records.

• And later God abrogated even the last assertion, so that people die for their own sin, not for that of others: ‘What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live, says the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. Know that all lives are mine; the life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine: it is only the person who sins that shall die.’ (Ezek. 18: 4). And Ezekiel spends the entire chapter amplifying the point, and concludes, ‘... get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord GOD. Turn, then, and live.’ (Ezek. 18: 31b, 32).


• As Peter wrote to the Christians of Asia Minor, ‘The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.’ (1 Peter 3: 9).

• This is the God that we see more than 800 years before, confronted with the sin of Nineveh. ‘When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which he had declared [through Jonah] that he would bring upon them. And he did not do it.’ (3: 10). And he did not do it because he understood their circumstances and their ignorance: ‘there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and life hand ...’ (4: 11) - and they had repented in sackcloth and fasting, turned from their wicked way and from the violence which was in [their] hands.’ (3: 7, 8).

• This is a God who will respond to true repentance, by whomsoever. ‘pierced to the heart’ the men in the crowd at Pentecost asked Peter ‘what shall we do?’ He replied, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off [in other words anyone], as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.’ (Acts 2: 37 – 39) • Those who will turn in repentance and faith to God today will receive forgiveness and his Holy Spirit, whatever their credentials or lack of them so far as God is concerned. He is the God who delights to have mercy. He can and will change your heart, life, spirit. You will become a new creature, a new being. (d) ‘... as well as many animals’

• And one last challenging point for believers. God said to Jonah that his delight was to have compassion not only on the men and women and children of Nineveh, but on ‘many animals’. (4: 11). Not only does the gospel offer us the wonder of salvation, sins forgiven, and being given a new heart so as to become new creatures. Part of it is that we are called to show the same compassion as God has for the rest of his creation. We were created to care for the animals and the garden. How much more should be do so as new creatures in Christ Jesus.