Notes from Meeting Sunday 29 November 2020

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting for 29th November 2020

We welcomed William Fleming (Camberley) to be our speaker today.

Brian led the worship

We’ve come together to bring our worship, individually and collectively, to God today. I hope we come with thankful hearts, seeking to give Him glory for who He is, and what He means to each of us.

But who is this God of ours? We can’t see Him with our physical eyes.

Many religions of the world depend upon putting up symbolic representations of their gods, which they can focus on in their worship, and you see so many worshipping and burning incense to their gods in the temples and in their homes, particularly in the Far East.

We however are able to come into the presence of our God, the Lord Himself, wherever we are, and at His invitation. He delights in us coming in faith to Him, as the Holy Spirit draws us, and as we pour out our praises to Him.

Our first song draws upon some of what John saw in a vision and recorded for us in the book of Revelation.

Rev 1: 17 & 18

17

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.

18

I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

Yes, we’re in the wonderful presence of the eternal King of kings and Lord of lords – the one who Himself went to the cross for us, but is now in the place of glory in heaven. What an amazing God we have com e to worship today.

 

Song: 34  At your feet we fall

AT YOUR FEET WE FALL, mighty risen

Lord,

As we come before Your throne to worship You.

By Your Spirit’s power You now draw our hearts,

And we hear Your voice in triumph ringing clear.

 

I am He that liveth, that liveth and was dead,

Behold I am alive forever more.

 

There we see You stand, mighty risen Lord,

Clothed in garments pure and holy, shining bright.

Eyes of flashing fire, feet like burnished bronze,

 

And the sound of many waters is Your
voice.

 

Like the shining sun in its noonday strength,

We now see the glory of Your wondrous face.

Once that face was marred, but now You’re glorified,

And Your words like a two-edged sword have mighty power.

 

David Fellingham.

Copyright © 1982 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music.

 

What are you needing or expecting from the Lord today? This probably depends upon the challenges you’ve faced in the past week.

  • Maybe you need rest and peace. Jesus knows all about that – he himself often had to withdraw from the people to find time to rest in the presence of His Father God.
  • Maybe you need something to brighten up your life, filled as it is with cares and concerns for yourselves and for others. Jesus simply says “Come to me all who are burdened, and I will give you rest!” Come to Him today, bring him your burdens, and claim His promise – He won’t let you down.
  • Maybe you need guidance – a beacon, something to aim for, or simply s light to show you the way ahead.
  • Maybe you need special help as you guide others through their times of trial.

Whatever your need today, remember we have a faithful God who can help us in every circumstance of our lives. Don’t forget to bring your needs to Him, because He’s a loving God who really does care for His people.

On these Zoom meetings, we don’t make much time to be quiet – so maybe you need to make your own time after our service just to be still before the Lord, to listen to Him.

 

Song: 894 Lord, I come before your throne of grace

Lord, I come before Your throne of grace;

I find rest in Your presence

And fulness of joy.

In worship and wonder

I behold Your face,

Singing what a faithful God have I.

 

What a faithful God have I,

What a faithful God.

What a faithful God have I,

Faithful in every way.

 

Lord of mercy, You have heard my cry;

Through the storm You’re the beacon,

My song in the night.

In the shelter of Your wings,

Hear my heart’s reply,

Singing what a faithful God have I.

 

Lord all sovereign, granting peace from heaven,

Let me comfort those who suffer

With the comfort You have given.

I will tell of Your great love for as long as I live,

Singing what a faithful God have I.

 

Robert & Dawn Critchley.

Copyright © 1989 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music.

 

As I said earlier, Jesus delights in our coming before Him with our worship. It can be silent worship, but the writer to the Hebrews extols the value of opening our lips in praise.

Hebrew 13:25

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise —the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Our next song is:  My lips shall praise you (937)

 

My lips shall praise You,

My great Redeemer;

My heart will worship

Almighty Saviour.

 

You take all my guilt away,

Turn the darkest night to brightest day,

You are the restorer of my soul.

 

Love that conquers every fear,

In the midst of trouble You draw near,

You are the restorer of my soul.

 

You’re the source of happiness,

Bringing peace when I am in distress,

You are the restorer of my soul.

 

Noel & Tricia Richards.

Copyright © 1991 Kingsway’sThankyou Music.

 

“In the midst of trouble You draw near”

There are plenty of troubles and sadly, troubled people around us. But in the midst of this, that song reminds us that Jesus is “the restorer of my soul” – that was of course the experience of the Psalmist David.

 As we thought about last week, and as the writer to the Hebrews adds after calling us to bring our sacrifices of praise to God, in v16

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased”

Yes, our service for God should involve sacrifice – of our time, energy, money – in the service of others.

But all the time we need to keep our eyes fixed upon the Lord, as we seek to “run with patience the race set before us.”

 

Our last song -  1612  - When the road is rough and steep

WHEN THE ROAD IS ROUGH AND STEEP,

Fix your eyes upon Jesus.

He alone has power to keep,

Fix your eyes upon Him.

Jesus is a gracious friend,

One on whom you can depend,

He is faithful to the end,

Fix your eyes upon Him.

Norman J. Clayton

Copyright © 1985 Wordspring Music/Adm. by CopyCare

 

William Fleming’s Talk – based on Matthew 6:5-15

Who are we? We are all different. It would be a very boring world if we were all the same would it not? But I would like this morning to explore briefly just how we relate to one another and, more importantly how we relate to almighty God.

Now, humanly speaking, each of us has different circumstances. Some of us live happily in a family with a spouse and children, either natural or adopted, or, we may be the children, of whatever age, who still live with our parents Some of us who are older may live with only a  spouse and we maybe are happy and content.  Perhaps, although you live in a family, relationships are broken and even within a family living together many people feel they are really on their own because there is no communication, no common understanding, or no mutual sympathy and you feel you are on your own.  Some of us, for whatever reason, may live alone, maybe because your spouse has died or left you, or because your family have grown up and left home. Or you never married, or you never had children or they have left home. Perhaps all your relatives have died and you have no one living to call family. Maybe you are like people I know who were raised in a children’s home and you never knew a family. Many people, who live alone, or who live communally but are still isolated, have learned to feel they can cope on their own without assistance or emotional support from a family. If that is you, you may say, “I don’t need anyone. I am who I am and that is just fine. I live for myself and do not bother anyone and no one bothers me.”

All these potential circumstances are hopefully addressed as we consider our passage from Mathew 6.

A very famous poet, John Donne, who was also a Christian wrote these words, “No man is an island.” By that he meant that it was impossible for someone to live in complete isolation without affecting or being affected by other people.

But we do not rely on a poet who lived three hundred years ago. We seek answers from God’s word to the question, “Who are we?”

Right back in the very beginning of time when God created all that was made he looked at his creation and said, “It is very good.” 

Now this might sound like heresy but it is not. When God looked at his wonderful, mind-blowingly vast and complex creation stretching to infinity, held in place by so called natural laws, he did not describe it as “perfect.” He described it, instead, as “Very good.” - not perfect. That means it was capable of improvement and God himself identified the improvement He wished to make. Man, the pinnacle of his creation, was alone and God in his infinite wisdom decreed this great truth. “It is not good for man to dwell alone.” Genesis 2:18. So the concept of a family was born. Man was to live in the society of a family - man and woman male and female to produce children and fill the earth, subdue it and rule over every living thing. That was their intended destiny prescribed by God in his creation. The formation of the family unit was, we might say, the finishing touch to creation. So, right at the beginning we see that man and woman of all generations were to be part of a family with a divine purpose in creation.”

It was a family that was to have complete fellowship with almighty God and with whom God communicated freely until sin entered and all was spoilt. All of God’s glorious work was skewed off centre and all sorts of evil came into being. Today, we see that that is true of God’s model family of male and female for the production of children. Today those who have the rule over us describe the family God created as only one type of family and if, as a Christian, you wish to take issue with that you will be labelled a bigot or a homophobe or some other such terms of abuse. However, it is not my intention today to engage in argument on that point. It is futile. It is enough to point people to God’s word and leave it to him. Those who set themselves as being above the censure of what He has commanded and who arrogantly seek to pervert and demean what God has decreed as holy and fitting need to remember the words to Belshazzzar in Daniel 5 when he, at a great feast, scorned and demeaned the utensils  that had been used in Holy worship in Jerusalem and yielded himself to a perverted morality.  “Mene Mene Tekel Parsin was the writing on the wall. In particular the word Tekel – “Weighed in the balance and found wanting.”  People would do well to consider another example of God’s writing -Revelation 20 : 12 Books were opened. “The dead were judged according to what they had done.” 

Now as Christians, we speak “truth unto power” but we leave judgement and condemnation to God. It is our hope and prayer that all men will come to repentance and their names be found written in the Lamb’s book of life so that they will not be judged according to what they have done. They will not be weighed in the balance and found wanting but recorded as covered by the cleansing blood of Christ.

But I suspect this morning most of us accept the Biblical description of the family. Father mother and children So I hope, with God’s help we will see that the concept of family is still key to our relationship with God. 

Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament reveals that throughout the history of God’s dealings with his people, the concept of family has been paramount. A person’s identity was defined by his or her family and significantly the most important person in the family is “Father.” In Biblical terms we are sons and daughters of our fathers.

But God exhorts us to honour both father and mother. There is no suggestion that we afford our mothers lesser honour.  He values honouring parents enough to include it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:12) and again we see it in the New Testament: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honour your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3). Honouring parents is the only command in Scripture that promises long life as a reward. We do well to remember that and God does honour his promise.

As I was thinking about this message I reminded myself that I was and am part of a family. By virtue of age and sex I am now the senior member of my earthly family and in Biblical terms entitled to honour and respect. But that realisation has challenged me to consider whether, despite all their faults and short comings, I gave my parents the honour they were due from their son. 

Honouring your father and mother is being respectful in word and action because of their position Although we may no longer be directly under their authority, we cannot outgrow God’s command to honour our parents.  We may not like our parents. Some parents are not nice people but that does not excuse us from honouring them. Because that is the God given model.

 Now, I think it true to say that in the Old Testament there are very few references to God as a father in the family sense – he is described as the father of the nation - but the concept of God as a father to an individual is not clearly set out.  He is God almighty whose name cannot even be mentioned. He cannot be seen of anyone. However, there is one verse in particular that gells with what I have been saying. Malachi 1: 6. God asks a question, “If I am a father where is the honour due to me?” It is clear to me that the question right at the end of the Old Testament before the 400 years of silence assumes the fatherhood of God as in a family and records his feelings at the failure of his children to honour him.

But, when we get into the new testament, we find there has been a huge change of emphasis and the concepts of fatherhood and sonship are introduced in a powerful way that the Jewish hierarchy found challenging and offensive (John 10). God introduces the promised Messiah as part of a family and although he was presumed to be Joseph’s son it is clearly stated that he was the Son of God begotten without Joseph’s involvement. Now, I think I am correct in saying that nowhere is there a record that Jesus ever claimed to be Joseph’s son.  Others made that reference – the carpenter’s son. But Jesus submitted Himself to both His earthly parents (Luke 2:51) and His heavenly Father (Matthew 26:39).

So right at the beginning of his earthly life Jesus is reaffirmed, and reaffirms himself, as being part of both a heavenly family and a hugely extended earthly family.  In his contemporary society he was known as the son of Joseph but he was first and foremost the Son of God his father.

Now we look at the first few words of the prayer known as the Lord’s prayer, although strictly speaking it should most probably be called “the disciples’ prayer.”  Perhaps John 17 would be better described as the Lord’s prayer?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Remember this is a prayer that Jesus gave to his disciples and therefore to us a model for our prayers and that very first word, the possessive pronoun “Our” has huge significance. When I or my wife mention “our” sons it means that the relationship is common to both of us. When our sons speak together and say “our father” or “our” mother it is confirmation that they have a common parentage and they are brothers. So right here is an assertion that those who make use of this prayer and say “Our Father,” are confirming their relationship with God, their father and with those who are praying with them.  They are family. God is father and they are children - sons and daughters of God the eternal father. We can see further that Jesus described all who do God’s will as his extended family, brothers, sisters and Mother, Mark 3:31-35.and throughout the epistles we see constant reference to our relationship within the family of God as his children and therefore brothers and sisters one to another and also to Jesus, our elder brother described by the apostle Paul as “Firstborn amongst many brethren.”

So right at the beginning of this model prayer we see a tremendous truth. God is our Father. Let us get even more personal. God is my father. If you are a Christian in the common sense of the word then you too are a child of God and he is your father. That means that I am your brother. That means that every Christian world-wide at this moment in time, black, white, brown or yellow, is your brother or sister. That is a fact. Some people do not like that idea but they are in error. We, in God’s eyes, are one family and as in a family we have a responsibility one to another. If we fail to grasp the essential meaning of saying “Our Father” then the prayer becomes no more than the vain repetition that it is to so many who recite it as a ritual without thought.

Here is a tremendous truth and comfort. No matter what our personal circumstances are, no matter if we live alone or as part of a community, no matter how low we may be, no matter how desperate our circumstances, God is our Father and we have every right to turn to him as a child turns to a father, show him due reverence and seek his blessing and gracious provision. That is our privilege.  But, as we all know with privilege there comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters. Galatians 6:10.

Almighty God has made us his children and conferred enormous blessing on us, but we must not take the relationship lightly. If we are to honour our earthly parents how much more should we honour our heavenly father and so in the model prayer the focus changes from us to Him.

Hallowed be thy name.

Our father’s name is holy and worthy of all honour, and our first priority is to pray that the world would see how holy and glorious He is. It always grates on me when I hear Christians casually using God’s name as an exclamation. “Oh God! In the name of God. For God’s sake,” when the last thing they are thinking of is God. When we call on the name of God we should do so with great reverence and humility so that those who may hear us will recognise that we revere him and want his name to be regarded as holy. So, “Our Father - Our own Father” is tempered by the acknowledgement that his name is, and is to be, holy. He is God.

Your kingdom come. Here we see specifically that we are to pray for the furtherance of God’s kingdom – the sphere of influence in which he has undoubted sway. To me that means asking our Holy, heavenly Father to help us in our own lives to be faithful, obedient, authentic, and effective Christians. We help God’s kingdom to come not only with words but also through our actions and what other people see in our conduct. We also know from Scripture that God does not want anyone to be lost.  So, by praying for the coming of the Kingdom we are making intercessory prayer.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

In Heaven there is no problem. God’s will is attended to without demur but on earth things are different. The vast majority of the world’s population do not do God’s will.

Sadly, that is also true in our lives as believers. The basic difficulty we face when we pray is because, like children, we are concerned with our problems and desires and we tend to want immediate results in accordance with what we think is best to meet our immediate desire. We pray for our will to be done. However, to ask that God’s will be done is to ask that, if necessary, our wills and our desires will not be met. It is not easy to pray that way when you’re standing beside the hospital bed of someone you love whose life may be ebbing away but as children of a loving Father we must accept that his will is best.  Some of you may remember the name of Geoffrey Bull. I remember hearing him preach a number of times and I have some of his books. He went to Tibet as a missionary and was imprisoned by the communist Chinese for three years and endured brain washing and “re-education”. But he was sustained by his faith. This I think was his favourite hymn and it sums up what our attitude should be to God’s will. Our will should be subordinate to God’s will because he knows best.

1. God holds the key of all unknown,

And I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key,
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad, I might be sad.

2. What if tomorrow’s cares were here
Without its rest!
I’d rather He unlocked the day;
And, as the hours swing open, say,
My will is best, My will is best.

3. The very dimness of my sight
Makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel His hand; I hear Him say,
My help is sure, My help is sure.

4. I cannot read His future plans;
But this I know;
I have the smiling of His face,

And all the refuge of His grace,
While here below, while here below.

5. Enough! this covers all my wants,
And so I rest!
For what I cannot, He can see,
And in His care I saved shall be,
Forever blest, forever blest.

 

Give us this day our daily bread

Our needs are short term. Those who heard these words when they were first spoken would remember the daily provision of manna in the wilderness. God provided enough but not excess. When we pray for our daily bread, we are focused on the present situation. Jesus is emphasizing the importance of living in the present moment. Although we are his children, God has not guaranteed any of us a tomorrow (James 4:13–14).

Forgive us our debts

I mentioned earlier that with privilege comes responsibility. We have the privilege of being children of God and being able to look to him for a father’s care but as members of the family we have a duty to uphold its standards. Our Father says, “Be holy for I am holy.” That is the standard but, because we are fallible human beings we get it wrong and we build up a debt and so we have to ask for forgiveness and in seeking that continuing forgiveness it is understood that we have also forgiven the people who have sinned against us. It is in the nature of the Father to forgive his repentant children and so it should be in our redeemed nature to forgive not only our brothers and sisters but also everyone who has sinned against us. That can be very hard but we just need to consider what it cost that we might we forgiven.

And lead us not into temptation

This verse of the Lord’s Prayer asks God to help because so often we are tricked by the devil into making the wrong choices in life. In praying this we are asking God to help us avoid making more bad decisions.

But deliver us from evil:

Here we are we are asking God to rescue us and set us free from sin and evil in our lives.

The final verse of the Lord’s Prayer is our acknowledgement of God’s power.

  • Thine means:  something that belongs to you
  • Kingdom means: an area controlled by a king (heaven and earth)
  • Power means: ability to act
  • Glory means: to give respect or praise

 

In researching for this, I came across a modern version of the prayer. It reads like this.

“Lord, we are loyal to you in heaven. You are in charge and we will do exactly what you say. Thank you for what you give us each day. I will forgive others for their mistakes. Please forgive my mistakes. Help me avoid making bad decisions. Set me free from my sins. You have all the power and deserve all the praise. Amen.”

Now we could end there but Jesus went on to deal specifically with the matter of forgiveness and relief from consequences in our daily lives.  What he is saying is this, if you get it wrong and seek forgiveness from due punishment but you are unwilling to grant forgiveness to those who have offended you then you will not be forgiven and must face the consequences. What is in view here is the loving discipline of a caring father. It is beautifully set out in Hebrews 12:5-6 that quoted from Proverbs 3 11-12.  Rest assured forgiveness is there for those who seek it and exercise it but also as children of the Royal family we will be disciplined as necessary.
So I hope, with God’s help that I have reminded you that because of the redemptive work of Christ on the cross you are, or you have the potential to become,  a son or daughter of the Lord God Almighty. Here in the UK we have a queen and she has younger children who by virtue of the fact that they are her children are held to be worthy of respect and honour and we bow to them for that reason. But she also has an elder child who will one day be King and all including his siblings will bow to him. Just think for a moment! Those of us who are Christians are the younger children of a much higher monarch than our gracious lady Queen Elizabeth. We have an elder brother, our Lord Jesus Christ before whom every knee will bow at the appointed time but in the meantime remember this, “Hold your head up high because you are a child of the King and you are loved by Him.”

William then closed in prayer, and we sung the song “Father God I wonder”

 

FATHER GOD, I WONDER how I managed to exist

Without the knowledge of Your parenthood and Your loving care.

But now I am Your son, I am adopted in Your family,

And I can never be alone,

’Cause Father God, You’re there beside me.

 will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

Forever more.

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

Forever more.

 

lan Smale.

 

Notices

  1. The wedding of Lee and Rachel will take place in the Church at 2.00pm on Saturday 12th December. Due to Government regulations, only a limited number (15) invited guests will be able to attend.
  2. Next Sunday is Advent Sunday, and Sue asks everyone to have a candle or similar source of light with them if watching at home.
  3. From next Sunday onwards, we plan to enable those who so wish to join the service at the Church. Social distancing will be essential, plus wearing of face masks; congregational  singing is sadly not yet permitted.
  4. Next Saturday Dec  5th is the next Food Bank drive-in Morning – see attached sheet for details.
  5. Christmas Cards

Please note the following arrangements:

  1. If you so wish, we will arrange to collect any “Church Member” cards from your home on Tuesday 8th December. Any number from 1 upwards will be accepted!
  2. Cards will be sorted and distributed not later than Thursday 10th December.

You will need to advise Pat or I on 01293785721 or 07870623914 if you wish us to arrange to collect from your home.

 Alternatively, you could deliver them direct to the Church (through letterbox on main door) on or before 8th December.

Please ensure that names on envelopes are un-ambiguous – remember we have more than one Paul, Sue , Bryan/Brian etc.

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31
23/06/2024

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