Noted from Meeting Sunday 11th July 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 11th July 2021

Worship led by Ken Cowell

Psalm 25:  1 “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul; 2 In You I trust O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  3 No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to who are treacherous without excuse”  

David, who wrote this psalm, had a life with much trouble and opposition.  It appeared to begin early as he was youngest of seven brothers and was despised and considered of little value.  Even in his job as a shepherd he faced trials with a lion and a bear.  But very soon he recognised his own weakness and learned to trust God who delivered him from those situations.

Sadly, man prefers to trust himself and his ability before he turns to God.  In the past 18 months we have come face to face with our weakness through the pandemic and for some it has been a time to learn to consider God.  David strongly urges us to trust God from his own experience.  When buying something on the internet I always find reviews helpful in making my decisions.  Let’s take David’s recommendation and trust God as this song encourages us to.

SONG 221  :  I lift my eyes up to the mountains

I LIFT MY EYES UP to the mountains,

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from You, Maker of
heaven,

Creator of the earth.

O, how I need You, Lord,

You are my only hope;

You’re my only prayer.

So I will wait for You

To come and rescue me,

Come and give me life.

 

Brian Doerksen.Copyright © 1990 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing/Adm. by CopyCare.

 

Why did David put his faith in God?  He faced many situations that were too big for him.  He knew in himself he was no match for Goliath the Philistine giant and he made that clear to Goliath.  But he was coming to Goliath in the name and the authority of the God of Israel who had the strength to save and defeat any enemy.  And that’s just what God did for David and will do the same for us as we trust Him.  

We too will be able to praise Him for his almighty power and victory over all our enemies.  Let’s sing of His power in our next song.

SONG 2077 :  Praise is rising, eyes are turning to you

 

PRAISE IS RISING, eyes are turning to You,
We turn to You.
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You,
We long for You.

’Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day;
In Your presence all our fears are washed away,
Washed away.

Hosanna, hosanna,
You are the God who saves us,
Worthy of all our praises.
Hosanna, hosanna,
Come, have Your way among us;    
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus.

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You,
We turn to You.
In Your kingdom broken lives are made new,
You make all things new.

 

Brenton Brown & Paul Baloche Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music/Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/Sovereign Music UK

 

Psalm 25:  4 “Show me your ways O Lord, teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long”

David then asked God to show him his ways.  That is quite unusual these days as it is more common like Frank Sinatra to say, “I did it my way” as is often requested at funerals. From the beginning man is born selfish and believes doing things his own way is the happiest way to live.  However, he finds out that isn’t the case.  Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”   Our next song shows that the true way to happiness is to put Jesus at the centre of our lives.

 

SONG 1377:   Jesus be the centre

JESUS, BE THE CENTRE,

Be my source, be my light,

Jesus.

 

Jesus, be the Centre,

Be my hope, be my song,

Jesus.

 

Be the fire in my heart,

Be the wind in these sails;

Be the reason that I live,

Jesus, Jesus.

 

Jesus, be my vision,

Be my path, be my guide,

Jesus.

 

Michael Frye Copyright © 1999 Vineyard Songs (UK/Eire)/ Adm. by CopyCare

 

 

Psalm 25: 6 “Remember O Lord your great mercy and love, for they are from old, 7 Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways, according to your love remember me, for you are good, O Lord.”

David remembers how great God’s mercy and love are.  David was by no means perfect and failed God many times.  But each time God in his love forgave him as he repented and he does the same for us.  Let’s sing about his love that forgives and renews us.

 

SONG 895 :   Lord I come to you, let my heart be changed renewed              

 

Lord, I come to You,

Let my heart be changed, renewed,

Flowing from the grace

That I found in You.

And Lord, I’ve come to know

The weaknesses I see in me

Will be stripped away

By the power of Your love.

 

Hold me close,

Let Your love surround me.

Bring me near, draw me to Your side.

And as I wait

I’ll rise up like the eagle,

And I will soar with You,

Your Spirit leads me on

In the power of Your love.

 

Lord, unveil my eyes,

Let me see You face to face,

The knowledge of Your love

As You live in me.

Lord, renew my mind

As Your will unfolds in my life,

In living every day

By the power of Your love.

 

Geoff Bullock.Copyright © 1992 Word Music/Adm.  by CopyCare

 

SONG 229 : I’m accepted, I’m forgiven

I’M ACCEPTED, I’m forgiven,

I am fathered by the true and living God.

I’m accepted, no condemnation,

I am loved by the true and living God.

There’s no guilt or fear as I draw near

To the Saviour and Creator of the world.

There is joy and peace

As I release my worship to You, O Lord.

 

 

Brian’s Message

I want to begin by reading some well-known verses in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit had just descended upon the apostles at Pentecost, and Peter went out to explain to the crowds of people from many nations what was happening – how it was they could all hear the message being preached in their own language, despite them being from many different countries.

READ Acts 2:14 – 21

So what was Peter doing quoting from this OT prophesy of Joel? If we quote sentences from someone else’s writings, it’s usually because they are very well known and revered people in their own right. People often quote for instance from Shakespeare, or from Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress, or from Churchill to name a few, words of wisdom which have stood the test of time and are still respected by millions of people world-wide.

Peter, in presenting his explanation for what people had seen going on in Jerusalem, chose these words from this prophet of old. Joel is one of what we call the “minor prophets”, and as such his writings are seldom looked at by us in much detail.

Clearly the Jews of his day would have been very aware of what this prophet had declared from the Lord, so Peter is able to show them that what was now happening was indeed the fulfilment before their very eyes of what Joel had said so many years previously.

So, what do we know about this man Joel?

Well, not very much actually. We know he was a prophet and was the son of Pethuel. It is likely he lived in Jerusalem or nearby, and he addressed his prophesies to the southern nation of Judah. We don’t know precisely when he lived, but it is may have been around 830 BC when Joash was the young king of Judah. Joel speaks very forcefully in this short but powerful book, and it clearly made an impression on subsequent generations of Jews all the way to the time of Christ. They would have been aware of the warnings Joel gave, and of the promises which God gave to the people through his servant.

So I want to look briefly this morning at some of what Joel had to say.

I guess you probably haven’t got your bibles with you, but if you have Joel comes immediately after Daniel and Hosea. It comprises only 3 chapters, so is easy to read at one stretch. Try reading it for yourselves after the meeting today.

Note firstly where the message came from – 1:1 reads “The word of the Lord that came to Joel” - the message is from the Lord. It’s not what he has invented, but comes directly from the Lord, as the Holy Spirit directed him. And the message is to be passed on to future generations for their edification.

It seems the nation was already suffering from plague after plague of locusts, spoken about in the first 12 verses of chapter 1. Joel begins by speaking about locusts, followed by great locusts, then young locusts, and finally even more locusts. Each wave causing complete devastation of all their crops, and the result was they couldn’t even make their offerings to God in the temple. For a people that depended on their own hard work on the land for their mere survival, this was a devastating experience. One moment, you think the pests are gone, but then another wave of maybe a different variety of locust turns up. It seems endless.

One locust might look quite an interesting creature, rather like a giant grasshopper. it’s head resembling that of a horse. But I gather that a swarm of locusts can have as many as 500 million insects, covering 400 square miles. They can travel at up to 10 miles per day and lay 5,000 eggs per square foot. They can eat up to 80,000 tons of food a day – causing all vegetation to disappear.

(As an aside, remember that locust plagues still occur today, mainly in Africa – often affecting many of the poorest people in the world. When we hear about these catastrophes, do particularly lift up in prayer those seeking to bring relief to poor and starving people.)

Joel goes on to graphically describe the army of locusts – they’ve got teeth like lions teeth, they’ve destroyed all the grape vines and fig trees – so there’s no figs or wine this year. All the crops in the fields had been ruined, so there wasn’t even any grain or wine to offer in the temple sacrifices – and people’s joy had dried up, as they faced drought and starvation.

So Joel tells the people to come together – the priests, the leaders, and all the people – meet up in the temple and cry out to the Lord their God for mercy. The barns were empty, the animals moaning with hunger, flocks of sheep and goats bleat in misery. “Lord help us” is the only cry of the people as they gather in God’s house. They’ve got no offerings to bring – the locusts have devoured them all.

Note Joel also said (v15) “the day of the Lord is near” – a phrase which he uses a total of five times in his book -as he warns them about the dire consequences for the whole nation if they fail to heed God’s warnings.

Despite the trials the people had endured, it appears they took little heed to the warnings God had given them. Because the next chapter begins with further warnings from God about the coming “day of the Lord” – which Joel now describes as “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness” (v2). The locusts in this chapter are likened to an attacking army of warriors, marching unswervingly ahead, and destroying anything that got in its way.

What God was seeking was true repentance – some of the terrors Joel so vividly describes here had yet to come.  But would the people respond to this new warning?

So Joel goes on to explain what God is saying and what he really wants from the people. (Ch 2: 12 – 14 – READ))

The first thing God says is what he wants them to DO : “Return to me”. The people had wandered far away from God – they had chosen to worship the man-made gods of the other nations around them, their worship of the true God was a sham. So God says “Return to me” – he gives them a chance to repent and to renew their vows with him. They could look back at the history of their nation and see how God had blessed them when they had truly honoured him and respected his laws. And now he is giving them another chance – throwing out a life=-line to them once again – if only they will listen.

As we read just now, he is indeed “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love”

So God firstly wants the people to return to him.

The second thing God says is when – and the answer is “now”.

I well remember the clock face in the church where I was brought up which had the words across the face “It is time to seek he Lord” – whatever the time shown on the clockface NOW is the time to seek the Lord. It was a reminder that we shouldn’t put it off until a later, seemingly more-convenient time – God says “Turn to me now, while you can”. How many people have heard the call of God very clearly, but have chosen to put off making any response until later in their lives?  They’ve thought to themselves “Maybe later, when I’ve got my life sorted, then I’ll give God a go”. Well, God may not go on speaking into your life for ever. Jesus call to his disciples was to follow him immediately – not to wait for a time that suited them.

We live in an uncertain world. The only certainty we have is that one day God will call an end to things at his chosen time. In the meantime, we live in what the bible calls the “last times”, and so now more than ever NOW is the time to respond to whatever he is saying to you.

So God wants them to return to him NOW.

And the third thing God tells them is HOW they are to return to him – it was to be “with all your heart”. Being “wholehearted” about something really does make all the difference, rather than having just a lukewarm reaction to something. The owner of a vintage car is likely to be wholehearted about the upkeep of his prized vehicle and spends every available minute in cleaning and polishing his pride-and-joy.

Yes, God wanted a wholehearted response – that’s what he most desired from his people. Not their temple worship and sacrifices – these meant nothing if their hearts were somewhere else.  Remember they were a people who had enjoyed many of the blessings God had poured out upon the nation since they had left captivity in Egypt – they knew how great his blessings could be, but for the most-part they had chosen to follow the pagan gods of the lands where they were living.

I wonder, how truly committed are we to the Lord – do we really “love Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength?” Or are there too many other things or people which have first place in our lives? He wants us to be wholehearted in our response to him for his love and grace to us.

Joel then tells the people how they should be demonstrating their commitment “with fasting and weeping and mourning” – things which were no use in themselves, but which in Jewish traditions would naturally follow true repentance and turning back to God. They might well be asked by friends “Why are you doing this?”, and they would have the opportunity to explain their actions to others.

Joel goes on to emphasise the need for people to “rend their hearts and not their garments”, Making a show to others, by tearing their garments in public, was not what God wanted – he needed a change of heart. And Joel reminds the people of the true nature of God. He really doesn’t want to bring calamity upon his people, because by nature he is a gracious and compassionate God, who loves his people.

If the people do respond, Joel offers the possibility that God may relent from his threat to bring catastrophic judgements upon the people. But they’ve got to respond. So he calls the whole nation to gather together to plead to God for him to have compassion on them.

Joel then goes on (in 2:18 onwards) focus on all the blessings God will give to his people if they truly repent and turn back to him. Joel urges the people to be glad rather than afraid. He promises Israel that God will restore the years that the locusts had eaten. Maybe you regret wasted years in your life, but God says he will restore those years to you, if you truly turn in repentance to him. We can’t turn the clock back, but we can all make better use of whatever years God still has in store for us.

Joel outlines many blessings the Lord will bring to his people – new grain, new wine, freedom from invading armies, sufficient rain in autumn and spring to nourish the crops. They will have plenty to eat and will once again be able to praise the name of the Lord who has worked wonders on their behalf.

We then come to the most well-known part of the prophesies of Joel, the words which we read earlier as quoted by Peter at Pentecost, where he again gives some wonderful promises from God. If they repent, he will never again punish the nation. Instead there will be a total restoration – not just physical, but spiritual also.

The  promise God gives is that he will, at some undefined time in the future  pour out his Spirit on all kinds of people – the rich, the poor, men, women, young people – from any nation in the world. Prior to this, it seemed as if God’s spirit was given to certain special people for a particular purpose, to some kings, prophets and judges, as they had varying roles in leading God’s people. But now Joel is speaking of a future time when God will make his Spirit available to all people, regardless of their background or their place in society.

Young people will prophesy and see visions – we must not down-play what God can say through spirit-filled young people. And even us oldies aren’t left out - we will have God-given dreams. Even the lowest in man’s eyes, the manservants and maidservants are included in those on whom God’s Spirit will rest.

We began by reading the account of Peter explaining to the crowds of people after Pentecost that what happened there was a fulfilment of what Joel had prophesied some 800 or so years earlier. God had given his Spirit to the apostles and was enabling them to do many marvellous things in His name. Jesus had of course promised his disciples they would receive power when the Spirit came upon them – and what an immediate change it made to their lives.

Isn’t it amazing that God should want to put His Spirit into us? He was after all taking a big risk. Why did he do it? There are many answers to that question, but for today I just want to suggest it was so that you and I might become more like our blessed Saviour himself. In order for the church, the body of Christ, to grow, people’s lives need to be transformed so they can be Jesus within their own communities. They can’t do it on their own, but need the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead, guide and empower them.

Joel then goes on to speak about wonders in the heavens and on the earth - the sun being darkened and the moon to blood – both as signs of the coming of the day of the Lord. It’s interesting how the universe responds to what is going on down here on earth – remember what happened when Christ died – the sun went out and there was darkness for 3 hours. God was truly in control of the heavens, as he still is now.

Joel then closes this chapter with a marvellous promise – that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” What a wonderful promise – if we call in faith upon the Lord, He will hear us. No doubts – we don’t need to go on a pilgrimage or try to meet him in some faraway place. And the promise is we will be saved – forgiven. As Peter said later when preaching at Pentecost, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Have you heard his call? Jesus’ call was “Come follow me” and “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. His call was for people to commit their lives to following his teaching, putting the call of God before human desires. Giving Him first place in our lives.

Joel’s prophecy began by talking about destruction, but finishes with foretelling blessings for all God’s people, He attempted to get the people to wake up, get rid of their complacency, and get back to obeying and honouring God.

Have you heard God’s call – but for various reasons have chosen not to make any commitment? Remember, now really IS the time to respond to God’s call.

If you have heard and responded to God’s call, you have entered into eternal life – beginning here and now, and continuing into eternity. And God has put His Spirit in you. As Peter went on to say, “Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Paul tells us “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you. You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body”.

May we each allow God’s precious Holy Spirit to so indwell each of us, so we can be more like Jesus in our lives as we seek to honour and obey him day by day.

CLOSING SONG:  511 Spirit of the Living God

SPIRIT OF THE LIVING GOD,

Fall afresh on me;

Spirit of the living God,

Fall afresh on me.

Fill me anew,

Fill me anew.

Spirit of the Lord

Fall afresh on me.

 

Copyright © 1984 Restoration Music Ltd./

                Adm. by Sovereign Music UK.

 

Notices

 

  1. Wednesday – 7.30pm – Zoom bible study
  2. Next Sunday – Speaker will be Steve Alliston (CCC); we will also be sharing in the Breaking of Bread.
  3. Advance Notice: On Sunday 15th August we are planning to hold a Church Family Lunch, hopefully held outside, at 12 noon. All are welcome, including those normally only watching on Zoom. Please bring your own food – drinks will be provided.