Notes of Meeting 24th October 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 24th October 2021

Worship led by Sue Clarke

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save!”

We are here today to praise our Redeemer – Jesus Christ, and to thank our Father for sending Him into the world to save us. The words of an old chorus:

“I am redeemed by the blood of the lamb

I am redeemed, and I know I am

I am redeemed by the blood of the lamb

Saved from sin and I know I am

All my sins are taken away, Praise the Lord”

 

1Peter 1: 8 & 9

God lovers us and saves us

SONG: Come let us worship our Redeemer

 

Come, let us worship our Redeemer,

Let us bow down before His throne;

Come, let us kneel before our Maker,

Holy is His name.

 

Come into His presence with thanksgiving,

Make a joyful noise;

For the Lord is a great God,

King above all gods.

 

We are the people of His pasture,

The sheep of His hand.

For Christ the Lord is our Shepherd,

He will lead us home.

 

All praises be to God the Father,

Praise to Christ His Son;

Praise to God the Holy Spirit,

Bless the three-in-One.

 

Sarah Turner Smith

 

 

Psalm 18: 2 – 3 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”

Psalm 40: 16 “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say “The Lord be exalted!””

SONG: There is a Redeemer

 

THERE IS A REDEEMER,

Jesus, God’s own Son,

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

Holy One.

 

Thank You, O my Father,

For giving us Your Son,

And leaving Your Spirit—

Till the work on earth is done.

Jesus my Redeemer,

Name above all names,

Precious Lamb of God, Messiah,

O for sinners slain.

 

When I stand in glory

I will see His face,

And there I’ll serve my King forever

In that holy place.

 

 

Philippians 2: 6 – 11

SONG:  Jesus is King

Acts 4: 12   “Salvation  is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”

Hebrews 9: 28 “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

SONG: You laid aside your majesty

1Corinthians 15: 56 & 57    “Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”

SONG: Here is bread, here is wine

 

Breaking of Bread – led by Brian Legg

Colossians 1:12 – 14

What God the Father has done

  • Enabled us to share in his inheritance
  • Rescued us from Satan’s kingdom of darkness
  • Brought us into Jesus kingdom of light and love
  • He has allowed His Son to pay the redemption price  for our freedom
  • He has forgiven us our sins

 Colossians 1:20

What Christ has done “He’s made peace through his blood shed on the cross”

What a price – what a sacrifice!

 

Message by Brian Legg

We take great delight in the victory of under-dogs over their more illustrious opponents – be it in sport where a team of part-timers takes on and beats a team of millionaires from the Premiership, or in politics where an unknown independent candidate takes battle and wins against the major parties, or when the voice of the people is heard against the powerful business syndicates that want to re-develop land in our back gardens to build yet more warehousing.

The apostle Paul speaks in 1Cor 1: 27-28 about God choosing the lowly and despised things of this world – and today I want us to look at someone in the OT who began life in a very ordinary (we would now call it “disadvantaged”) situation. We know little about his background, apart from the fact he came from a small village in Judah about 14 miles away from the capital city of Jerusalem – right off the beaten track; his sole source of income was from taking care of someone else’s sheep, and tending sycamore fig trees – not apparently a very rewarding exercise for anyone. It’s unlikely that he had the benefit of any formal education.

At this time, about 750 years BC, the Jewish nation was split in two parts – Israel in the north, with Jeroboam its king and its centre of worship at Bethel, and Judah ruled by king Uzziah to the south, including its capital city of Jerusalem.

God had become decidedly angry with his chosen people. He had allowed them to have a king – initially Saul, but that didn’t work out too well; he was succeeded by David, and then Soloman. But after Soloman’s death, civil war broke out resulting in the division of the nation. The northern kingdom of Israel had a succession of kings, none of whom lasted very long, and worse still was the way they led their nation away from God to follow after the false gods of their neighbours the peoples of Canaan.

God sometimes does surprising things – and here we find God taking someone who you would consider a most unlikely candidate and instructing him to get out of his quiet village in Judah and travel north into Israel – into enemy territory, and telling him to share a most unpopular message with the people. The man God chose was of course Amos. He wasn’t a professional prophet, one of those who made a living out of telling people what they wanted to hear. He was different – a man of God who listened intently to what God was saying, and who was willing to respond to the call of God.

What we do know about him is found in the 7th chapter of the 3rd book of the minor prophets. The book opens by saying “the words of Amos”, although as he later emphasizes, he was simply acting as a mouthpiece for the Lord God himself – the messages he brought were God’s words.

I want us to take a birds-eye view of the book today, and in particular see if there are lessons in it for us some 2,700 years later. God has graciously allowed these OT prophesies to be retained in scripture for our edification and education. The same God who condemned the sin of his chosen people in Amos’ day is the same God who looks down upon us – what would he be saying to the nations of the world today – to our nation, and to us as individuals?

We’ve not got time to read the whole book today – it only comprises 9 chapters, and will take you about  …..mins to read through at your leisure later today or in the coming week.;

It begins in the first 3 chapters with God declaring his righteous judgement on Israel’s neighbours – various tribes and city nations on whom God was going to send great suffering and torment because of their way of life, and in particular the way they were treating God’s own people, Israel. Their capital cities were Damascus, Gaza and Tyre, all places which you can still find on present-day maps of the region.

Damascus, in effect Syria, is castigated for the way they had brutally treated the people of Gilead, which was Israeli territory east of Galilee.

Gaza is condemned for the way it had taken whole communities of people from Israel and sold them off to Edom – slave trading on a grand scale – making themselves rich at the expense of other people’s freedom.

Tyre is similarly condemned for its role in selling people as slaves to Edom.

As Amos spoke these words, the listening Israelites would have been quite pleased that God was to take action against these enemies of theirs. God’s declared judgement upon each of these nations was their destruction, and history shows how in due time each of these nations suffered various degrees of annihilation at the hands of their enemies.

Amos then turns to God’s judgement on three nations more closely related to Israel.

Firsly, Edom, the nation directly descended from Esau, is condemned for a total lack of compassion, as anger was allowed to rage continually.

It’s then the turn of Ammonites to be castigated for the way they had mis-treated even pregnant women as they sought to extend the nation’s borders.

Thirdly, God chooses to cast judgement upon Moab, in this case for the inhumane violence against the corpse of the king of Edom.

Again, you can imagine I think the satisfaction with which these judgements would have been received by the people of Israel – “About time too!” might well have been their response, as they waited for God’s judgements to actually take place. In some cases, it would be many years before the promised destruction of peoples and cities would take place.

Having dealt with these 6 nations, Amos moves his thoughts to Judah, his own nation, the “other half” of Israel itself. As a result of their sins, they will suffer the same the same type of national disgrace and destruction as the previous 6 nations, as their defences and wealth in which they had trusted is destroyed. And their sin?  Amos 2:4 “ because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods”.

God’s own chosen people had wilfully cast aside God’s ways, his teachings, instead following the evil ways of other nations, so now God would punish them, just as he would the other 6 nations.

This must have had a sobering impact upon Amos’s listeners in Israel.  Despite their separation and animosity towards their near neighbours, they probably wouldn’t have wanted to see the destruction of Jerusalem.

But there was worse news to come - because Amos next turns to the sins of Israel itself. As in many godless societies, the judiciary were high on the corruption list. Judges were open to bribery, and as usual it was the poor who suffered. Justice was denied to the oppressed, the rich got richer by any means possible, and the poor got even poorer. Sexual behaviour had ignored God’s prohibition of adultery and fornication, and they were mis-using the house of God. So God tells them the nation will be crushed, and there will be no escaping the destruction to come – not even the most fleet-footed soldier or horseman will be able to escape.

So Amos had to share this very unwelcome message with the people of Israel. Imagine how they would now be feeling – no longer in jubilation that God was going to sort out their enemies, but now having to look intently at themselves, contemplating God’s declared judgement upon their own nation. They thought they were doing so well – particularly the well-off ruling classes, but God had other ideas.

The next 3 chapters detail further some of the atrocities that were taking place in Israel. Remember these were the acts of God’s chosen people, and he chose to use Amos to confront the nation with the judgements he was to pour upon them because of their failure to take heed to warnings they had been given. These included:

  • They had forgotten how to do right, because doing wrong had become second-nature
  • Their fortresses were filled with wealth taken by theft and violence
  • The rich had built themselves luxury second homes, whilst the poor suffered homelessness
  • They offered sacrifices and offerings, not to God, but to idols they had set up in place of God himself at Bethel and Gilgal, each places that had a special place in the history of their nation.
  • They disregarded the needs of the poor
  • They despised those who spoke the truth in the courts

This wasn’t of course the first time that God had confronted the people and told them of his displeasure with their chosen ways of life. Other God-fearing prophets had come with the same message, but the people refused to listen, and preferred to carry on disregarding the God who had done so much for their nation.

Amos reminds them too of the different ways God has warned his people =- through Famine, drought, blight, mildew, locusts, plagues and wars – yet still they chose not to listen.

 So the Lord says quite simply – “I’ve had enough” – and declares those well-known words “Prepare to meet your God”.

But God doesn’t just leave it there. In his mercy he does still leave the door open for the nation to repent and be restored.

In chapter 5, the options are clearly set out by Amos “Seek the Lord and live” – or otherwise face the consequences. “Seek good, not evil, that you may live” – and perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy. So there was still an opportunity offered by God for them to come to their senses and listen to Him.

One interesting feature of the book of Amos is his use of the words “for three sins, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.” He used these words in condemning the life-style of all of the seven nations that we spoke of earlier. Effectively, God was saying “Three would have been enough to warrant judgement; four makes it quite beyond question”. This surely shows the patience of God, not acting in haste to punish the sins of the people, as again and again they wilfully chose to ignore the instructions God had given them, but holding back, in the hope that they might see the folly of their ways before God had to intervene. Indeed, God indicates in 3:7 that he “does nothing without revealing his plans to his servants the prophets”. They had been given plenty of warning of the judgement that would befall them if they continued to ignore God.

God hated even the burnt offerings and sacrifices that some brought before him – he wouldn’t accept their songs of praise and their music – why? Because there was no justice or righteousness in the nation. This is summed up in Amos 5:24 “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” Another rendering of these words is “I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living”.

What a picture of what God wants from his people! What a challenge perhaps to us today – in a world of increasing inequalities, where doing the right thing is often seen as weakness.

What is “Righteous living”? – It may conjure up pictures of living a secluded monastic life of prayer and devotion, and for some that is their calling. But for most of us it’s quite simply being obedient to the commands and calling of God as revealed to us through the scriptures. He wants us to obey his commandments, summed up in just three words: “Love God”, and “love your neighbour”.

Amos had a special word for the complacent  - see 6: 1 and 4 – 7 (READ)

We may feel we’re getting too old to have much impact on the way our country is led, but in fact we can all have a voice today – there are numerous organisations needing our support, be it financial, or just in signing various declarations and making our views known through on-line media. We can all do something to make our voices heard, and this is particularly important when we find governments the world over doing things which are contrary to what we know God intended for mankind.

In the last two chapters of the book, we read about several pictures that Amos was given.

On one occasion, he saw the Lord preparing swarms of locusts which came and stripped the land of any crops. Amos knew only too well how devastating this would be for the people – so he cried out “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can the nation survive? It is so small.” Indeed, the nation was powerless to survive such a calamity.

At another time, he sees the Lord sending fire to destroy everything in its path – towns, hoses, vineyards – all would be lost, and again Amos cries out to God “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop!”.

In each instance we read that the Lord relented and declared “these things will not happen”.

It seems in these instances that God was willing to change his course of action in response to the prayers of Amos. Notice how he prayed – not just a brief whisper to God, he CRIED OUT. Have you ever done that – have you been so serious about a request you were making to God, that you have cried out to him? There are many instances in scripture of people who literally cried out to God in their despair – and He heard their cries, as he heard the cries of Amos.

Yes, prayer does change things. As James reminds us in his epistle (5:16) “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” – it produces wonderful results. And remember too what Paul says in Ephesians 3:20 – God is able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or think” – isn’t that great? So lets not be afraid to cry out to God with our requests.

A third picture that Amos was given relates to a plumb line – you know, a piece of string with something heavy on the end. Amos saw the Lord, standing by a well-built wall, with a plumb-line in his hand. That wall represented what Israel should have been. Sadly, as God put a plumb-line among his people, he found them well and truly out of line with what He intended. Remember that God measures us by His standards, not ours, or what may sadly have become normal in our progressive western society. It’s no good us looking at others and as it were saying to God “surely I’m not as bad as him or her”. If we’re out of vertical with God’s plumb line, then we’ve failed the test, and need God to intervene on our behalf. So again for the people of Amos’s day, God had to pronounce his judgement “I will spare them no longer”.

As we find so often in the words of the OT prophets, this wasn’t God’s last message. I mentioned earlier that God was leaving the door open for the people to repent. And the book of Amos concludes with words of hope (9: 13 – 15)  READ

The Jews of Amos’s day had lost sight of God’s care and love for them. The rich were carefree and comfortable, refusing to help others in need. So Amos announced God’s warnings of judgement and destruction for their evil ways.

God expects our belief in him to affect all areas of our lives – including the way we treat our neighbours far and near. How much compassion do I really have for the needs of others?

So briefly, what can we take away from looking at the book of Amos today?

  • Be reminded that God hates sin and disobedience
  • Remember prayer changes things
  • Be reminded what God expects to see in our lives – justice and righteous living.

 

SONG:  664 Beauty for brokenness

 

Beauty for brokenness,

Hope for despair,

Lord, in Your suffering world

This is our prayer:

Bread for the children,

Justice, joy, peace;

Sunrise to sunset,

Your kingdom increase!

 

Shelter for fragile lives,

Cures for their ills,

Work for the craftsman,

Trade for their skills;

Land for the dispossessed,

Rights for the weak,

Voices to plead the cause

Of those who can’t speak.

 

God of the poor,

Friend of the weak,

Give us compassion we pray:

Melt our cold hearts,

Let tears fall like rain;

Come, change our love

From a spark to a flame.

 

Refuge from cruel wars,

Havens from fear,

Cities for sanctuary,

Freedoms to share;

Peace to the killing-fields,

Scorched earth to green,

Christ for the bitterness,

His cross for the pain.

 

Rest for the ravaged earth,

Oceans and streams

Plundered and poisoned—

Our future, our dreams.

Lord, end our madness,

Carelessness, greed;

Make us content with

The things that we need.

 

Lighten our darkness,

Breathe on this flame

Until Your justice

Burns brightly again;

Until the nations

Learn of Your ways,

Seek Your salvation

And bring You their praise.

 

Graham Kendrick.

664         Copyright © 1993 Make Way Music.

 

 

 

PRAYER   

 

Notices

  1. Speaker next week at 10.15am will be Paul Carter
  2. Correction – Homegroup on Zoom will restart on Wednesday November 3rd – NOT this week!!
  3. Reminder – the Memorial Service for Carole Jones will be held this Wednesday 27th October at 1.30pm at St Francis’ Church, Balcombe Road, Horley.
  4. Jon & Clare Skipper and family are looking to borrow a car to take themselves to South Wales from 29th December to 8th January. If you know anyone able to help, please let the Church Secretary know as soon as possible.