Notes of Meeting 12th December 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meting 12th December 2021

 

Worship led by Brian Legg

Be quiet for a while – forget the news, Covid 19, Omicron, and what to get for your loved ones – come into God’s presence and worship Him

40           Be still, for the presence of the Lord

BE STILL, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here;

Come bow before Him now with reverence and fear.

In Him no sin is found, we stand on holy ground;

Be still, for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.

 

Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around;

He burns with holy fire, with splendour He is crowned.

How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light!

Be still, for the glory of the Lord is shining all around.

 

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place;

He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister His grace.

No work too hard for Him, in faith receive from Him;

Be still, for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.

 

 

PRAYER

Psalm 99:1 – 3

1

The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

2

Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.

3

Let them praise your great and awesome name — he is holy.

As we take the name of God on our lips, we need to remember who it is we’re speaking of. Our next song welcomes Him here – a God who will not only reign in his eternal kingdom, but is reigning now in power.

1093       Welcome King of kings

 

Welcome, King of kings!

How great is Your name.

You come in majesty

Forever to reign.

 

You rule the nations,

They shake at the sound of Your name.

To You is given all power,

And You shall reign.

 

Let all creation bow down

At the sound of Your name.

Let every tongue now confess,

The Lord God reigns.

 

 

In Rev 17:14 when speaking of the Lamb of God that he was seeing in his great visions of heaven itself, the apostle John writes: “he is Lord of lords and King of kings – and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers” – if you’re a follower of Jesus, it’s good to remember you have been called and chosen by God – but I challenge myself  - how faithful am I in following the master?

Sadly, we live in a world that on the whole believes it can trundle along on its own, without reference to God, the creator.  But Paul reminds us that a time will come when every knee will bow down – Phil 2: 9 – 11

9

Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

10

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11

and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Those thoughts are again reflected in our next song;

675         Blessing and honour …… be unto the ancient of days

 

 

Blessing and honour, glory and power

Be unto the Ancient of Days;

From every nation, all of creation

Bow before the Ancient of Days.

 

Every tongue in heaven and earth

Shall declare Your glory,

Every knee shall bow at Your throne

In worship;

You will be exalted, O God,

And Your kingdom shall not pass away,

O Ancient of Days.

 

Your kingdom shall reign over all the earth:

Sing unto the Ancient of Days.

For none shall compare to Your matchless worth:

Sing unto the Ancient of Days.

 

 

 

Your kingdom shall not pass away. How different to earthly kingdoms – history shows how they have come and gone through the centuries. As nations were brought to their knees through corruption and greed, through it all God chose to shine His light just over 2000 years ago. To firstly his own people the Jews, and then to people of all nations

The next song is really a prayer, again inviting Jesus into our world and into our lives.

821         Into the darkness of this world

 

Into the darkness of this world,

Into the shadows of the night;

Into this loveless place You came,

Lightened our burdens, eased our pain,

And made these hearts Your home.

Into the darkness once again –

Oh come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Come with Your love

To make us whole,

Come with Your light

To lead us on,

Driving the darkness

Far from our souls:

O come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

Into the longing of our souls,

Into these heavy hearts of stone,

Shine on us now Your piercing light,

Order our lives and souls aright,

By grace and love unknown,

Until in You our hearts unite –

Oh come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

O Holy Child, Emmanuel,

Hope of the ages, God with us,

Visit again this broken place,

Till all the earth declares Your praise

And Your great mercies own.

Now let Your love be born in us,

O come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

(Last Chorus)

Come in Your glory,

Take Your place,

Jesus, the Name above all names,

We long to see You face to face,

O come, Lord Jesus, come.

 

 

Christmas – a time to renew our welcome to Jesus – to perhaps open our hearts and our lives wider – to make more space for him.

“De cluttering” has become a phrase much used in industrial and commercial environments. On the railways, they have put a lot of energy into getting rid of unused buildings, some of which haven’t had any useful purpose for many years. For some of us, it’s probably our lofts that need clearing out.

But what of our lives – have we really made room for Jesus? We ask the Holy Spirit to come in – but sadly our lives are often so cluttered up with non-essential things that there is no room for him.

What a privilege is ours to know the Lord today. Our next song tries to put this into perspective – as we compare our lives before we met with Christ, with the joy that we now have in knowing Him.

 

646         All I once held dear

 

All I once held dear, built my life upon,

All this world reveres, and wars to own,

All I once thought gain I have counted loss;

Spent and worthless now, compared to
this.

 

Knowing You, Jesus,

Knowing You, there is no greater thing.

You’re my all, You’re the best,

You’re my joy, my righteousness,

And I love You, Lord.

 

Now my heart’s desire is to know You
more,

To be found in You and known as Yours.

To possess by faith what I could not earn,

All-surpassing gift of righteousness.

 

Oh, to know the power of Your risen life,

And to know You in Your sufferings.

To become like You in Your death, my Lord,

So with You to live and never die.

 

 

 

 

Paul expressed he same thought in Phil 3: 7 – 11 (Read)

“The surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”

You’re my joy, my righteousness – and I love You Lord. We do of course need to show in our actions that we really love him remember the solemn words of Jesus to his disciples “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.

Our next song takes us back again to some of the thoughts we had earlier – about Jesus reflecting the Father’s glory,  and reminding us yet again that he will return one day, and every eye will see Him and realise he is indeed God.

870         Jesus is the name we honour

 

Our last song – what is our response to the coming of Jesus as the son of Mary – the last verse says “we would come to you, live our lives for you” – that means making Him truly Lord of our daily lives.

357         Lord Jesus Christ (vs 1, 3 & 4)

 

LORD JESUS CHRIST,

You have come to us,

You are one with us,

Mary’s son.

Cleansing our souls from all their sin,

Pouring Your love and goodness in;

Jesus, our love for You we sing,

Living Lord.

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

You have come to us,

Born as one of us,

Mary’s son.

Led out to die on Calvary,

Risen from death to set us free,

Living Lord Jesus, help us see

You are Lord.

 

Lord Jesus Christ,

We would come to You,

Live our lives for You,

Son of God.

All Your commands we know are true,

Your many gifts will make us new,

Into our lives Your power breaks through,

Living Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer Time

  • Judy asked us to remember those people in USA affected by the recent tornado.
  • Remember too those impacted by Covid 19 in UK and overseas
  • Jan tells us that Faye is out of hospital, but still having daily treatment
  • Pete thanks the Lord for some good results from recent tests
  • Pete and Jan give thanks to the Lord for provision of a new car.
  • Chris says that Dorothy Fleming’s sciatica has improved; also that Jackie is out and about as she awaits decisions on further treatment
  • Playgroup – remember their Christmas event with parents on Tuesday morning
  • Pat – for wisdom as she deals with staffing issues at Playgroup
  • Jacqueline Brewell asks for prayer for a meeting on Tuesday to decide the long-term care for her Mother.

Ken’s Message

A Journey to Jesus                      Matthew 2.1-12

Recently I was trying to discover the differences between the first Christmas and the Christmas we celebrate today.   One man who has made an impact on our present day celebration of Christmas which he had no intention of doing was St. Nicholas - a very wealthy bishop in what is now modern day Turkey.  He was known for being kind and generous to the poor.  He died on December 6th 343AD.  Following his death his life was remembered by the custom of giving gifts to the poor and children on the anniversary of his death each year.  Prior to his death in 336 AD Christmas had begun to be celebrated by Christians throughout the Roman Empire.  Martin Luther, founder of the Reformation, didn’t like the idea of venerating a bishop so he changed the date for giving gifts from December 6th to the 24th which coincided with Christmas. This led in due course over time to the addition of St. Nicholas (Father Christmas) giving presents at Christmas time.  It particularly became much more commercialised after the Second World War progressively changing till it became what we have now with Father Christmas being a major part of our standard Christmas celebration.                                                                                                                                                                Another differences I noticed between the First Christmas and the present day Christmas is the role of children.  The celebration of Christmas today is focussed on our children receiving presents from Father Christmas.  Apart from the baby Jesus there is no mention of children at all in the first Christmas.  The main characters of first Christmas apart from Jesus, are a young couple Mary and Joseph, shepherds probably in their thirties or forties, Simeon and Anna an elderly couple in their 80’s and wise men who would be close to senior citizens.  The idea that Christmas is mainly for the children is not supported by the Bible.  It is not wrong to give Christmas presents but we must be careful that our celebration of Christmas is from what the bible teaches and not traditions that have no biblical basis.  However, we must keep to the Bible’s teaching of the true meaning of Christmas otherwise we shall be deceived by the world’s standards, which can easily take over and lead us away from the true essence of the Christmas story.                                                                                                                                                    What is the goal and main purpose of the Christmas story?  What do the shepherds, Simeon and Anna and the wise men have in common?                                                                      

They all met Jesus and worshipped him and became  different people.  That should be our goal this Christmas.  None of them met Jesus by chance.  They were all on a journey seeking him.  The call to seek the Lord is a constant one throughout scripture.  “Seek the Lord while he may be found” (Isaiah 55.7) “Seek the Lord and live” (Amos 5.6).  We are all on a journey to meet Jesus.  We have the invitation and command from Jesus, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11.28) We all start this journey at the same place, no matter what nationality, culture, social standing, whether rich or poor, or whatever upbringing we have. Everyone’s spiritual standing is the same, for the Bible describes us all as “dead in our transgression and sins,” (Ephesians 2.1).  We are born in our sin separated from God in need of spiritual life without which we can’t know God or have a right relationship with him.  That is why we are told to “Seek the Lord and live.”  Our need is not education, reformation or religion, but it is new life, eternal life.                                                                           

 The wise men’s journey to Jesus                                                                                                                                In my preparation for this message, I did some research on the “wise men” and discovered a number of things that surprised me and changed my views about what I previously believed about them.  Sometimes we can get our view of Christmas from Christmas cards and songs which we have accepted without reservation.  This is particularly true of the story of the wise men.  Admittedly, there is little we know of these “wise men” from the Bible but with investigation we can get a far more accurate picture of them.    The Greek word used for “wise men” is the word Magi.  These were well educated learned men, scientists who studied the stars and were influential as advisers to kings.  They were not kings with crowns as depicted on Christmas cards nor as described in the song “We three kings of orient are.”  There is no mention of three men coming to Bethlehem in the bible but has been deduced from the fact that they brought three gifts.  However, that can’t conclusively prove that there were three men.  Most scholars believe they came in a large entourage for they were bringing very expensive gifts.  If only three men came they could be easily attacked and their valuable gifts could be stolen.   Also as they were important dignitaries, it is most likely they would be escorted by soldiers for their protection.  These men probably came from Babylon and were counsellors to Nebuchadnezzar. It is highly likely that Daniel became one of them, even becoming a leader amongst them whilst he was in exile in Babylon.  They were aware of his Jewish faith and its reality through his deliverance in the lion’s den.  Although they weren’t Jews they had come to believe in one God no doubt through Daniel’s faith and influence. He was also held in high regard by Nebuchadnezzar.  They had heard of his prophecies of a coming king who would rule over all and because of his reliable reputation would take them seriously.                                                                                                                             

Though the birth of Christ was still 600 years ahead Daniel’s teaching and prophecies would still be valued and remembered.  They were looking for this coming king.                                                                                                                                           One evening they saw this unusual star in the sky and they believed it to be a message relating to this coming King. They began to see God’s existence and his presence in his creation.  They didn’t see the universe around them as a chance occurrence, but made by God revealing his glory.  They came to understand the words in Psalm 19.1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Recently I was aware of this when a friend shared a photo she had taken.  Some would say “What a great photo.”  But I added “What a great God we have.”  God’s wonderful creation marks for many the beginning of their search for God.  These wise men weren’t just impressed with the star but saw it as a sign of God calling to them.  They moved to act on what God was trying to teach them.  Part of our journey to Jesus is often begins with an event.  It could be a sickness, a narrow escape, a sudden transformation in a person’s life.  For John Newton the slave trader, it was a fierce storm at sea when he cried out to God for deliverance after which he became a believer.  In Japan we have seen men who rejected Christ for many years but when faced with death realised that only Christ could save them and so they repented and believed.                                                                                                                                                                             So the wise men began their 800 mile journey to Jerusalem in earnest.  It could take over two months to get there.  They certainly fulfilled the condition of Jeremiah 29.13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  We face again another error that is mistakenly given by the Christmas cards.  We see the shepherds and the wise men both by the manger worshiping together.  This contradicts what we read in Matthew 2.1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem……Magi came from the east to Jerusalem.”  We don’t know exactly how long after Jesus was born that the wise men visited.  It could have been several months.  The wise men didn’t visit the baby Jesus at the manger as the shepherds did but they met “the child in the house.”)  The baby Jesus was now a child and they are living in a house.  So it seems clear that it is sometime after the shepherds had been that the wise men turn up.  The gifts they brought of gold, frankincense and myrrh could be sold to help Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt soon after the wise men left.   How did they find Jesus?  Well it seems they asked Herod first.  That didn’t appear to be the best person to ask.  You can imagine the anger and concern Herod would have when he saw these dignified men with their large escort looking for the king of the Jews.  He was the king of the Jews although he wasn’t the true king being appointed by the Romans.  He didn’t know the answer but he knew who did, so he sent them to the chief priests and teachers of the law.                                                                                                                                                       They told them of the prophecy in Micah which said Bethlehem was the place where the king would be born, then they returned to Herod to tell him.  He devised a plan where they would go and search for Jesus and after finding him they would return to Herod to tell him where Jesus was so he could worship him too.  But his plan was to kill Jesus so he would remain king.  He thought it was a clever trick to get his hands on Jesus.  But he didn’t reckon he was opposed by God who was in charge of the whole proceedings from start to finish.  God was in control all the time and was using Herod to fulfil His Plan.  God can use his enemies to do His will.  It’s interesting that the chief priests and teachers who knew where Jesus could be found and told the wise men the answer, weren’t concerned about finding Jesus at all.  They had the answer but no desire to search for Jesus themselves.  It just shows that knowledge alone doesn’t bring a person to Christ but faith in what you know.  I was invited to church by a friend who wasn’t a Christian.  At the end of the service I stayed behind and became a Christian but he didn’t, and as far as I know he never became a Christian.  He was instrumental in leading me to Christ but he himself never came to Christ.  God sometimes works in strange ways.  The wise men knew the town where Jesus was born but it was a place with 25,000 people so how were they to find the house where Jesus was now?  They acted on the knowledge they had so started out for Bethlehem.  As they made their way to Bethlehem the star reappeared and guided them to the exact house.  This illustrates how God often guides us which is a step at a time.  He doesn’t reveal all the way ahead at the beginning, but just the next step I should take.  In Psalm 119.105 it says “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Guidance is given to my feet first for the next step then later for the pathway ahead.  As we go forward trusting God for each step then the way ahead will be shown in due course.  We read that “when they saw the star they were overjoyed”.  They knew they were on the right track. There is real joy when you know you are being guided by God and you are walking in His way and not your own way.  What happened when they came to the house?  They saw the child with his mother but “they bowed down and worshipped the child.”  They didn’t worship the child and the mother as some sadly do.  Mary was a wonderful woman chosen by God to give birth to Jesus but she was a sinner like us and should not be worshipped.  Was it right to worship the child?  We must only worship God.  That child was God as well as a child so is worthy of our worship.  The shepherds even worshipped him as baby.  As soon as God became flesh he was still God.  He was God in flesh appearing.  Worship is always accompanied by giving and they “opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and of myrrh.”  Nothing was hidden or held back but they gave the best of what they had. Mary of Bethany worshipped as she offered ointment worth a year’s wages.  However, the principal Jesus lays down in that situation is “she did what she could.”                                                                                              

 Jesus isn’t asking for something we don’t have.  Paul points out that we all have a body and that is what we all can give. “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy, and pleasing to God ----this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12.1)   Their worship didn’t stop at the house.  We read “they returned to their country by another route.”  They went home in a different way they came.  Their worship had an ongoing impact throughout their lives.  What about my worship?  Does it finish when I leave the church?  Or does it go on throughout the week?  Would you consider yourself a wise person?  Would you like to become a wise person?  You don’t need to go to university and start studying again.  You can become wise where you are. We couldn’t do better than follow the example of these wise men.  They were folk seeking Jesus in order to worship him.  That’s a wise person!

Closing Song – As with gladness men of old

Notices

  1. Coffee morning – 10.30am Wednesday
  2. Church cleaning – Saturday at 10am.
  3. Next Sunday – Carol Service at 10.15am
  4. Christmas Day – service at 10.15am
  5. Dec 26th – NO SERVICE