Notes of Meeting Sunday 11 September 2022

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting for 11th September 2022

With the sad passing of QE2, it’s appropriate for us to join today with many in our nation to remember and honour her life at this time of national mourning.

Let us be quiet for a few moments, then I’ll lead us in prayer.

Our loving Father, as we join with others throughout our land today, we want firstly to give you thanks for the life now passed, devoted as it was to faithful service for others – in her family, in our nation, and widely in the Commonwealth. We thank you for the personal faith which she had in you, the eternal God, and her testimony to the way you sustained her during hard times, enabling her to fulfil her commitment to serve the nation throughout her 70 years on the throne. We ask that many will at this time be inspired by her faith and her life lived in the service of others.

We lift up the Royal Family and those closest to her in this time of mourning and remembrance – bless them and unite them together we pray. We pray too for our new King Charles 3rd, asking that he may seek to follow in his mother’s footsteps and seek wisdom from you day by day.

So our Father, grant much joy to our late Queen as she now rests in your presence, in the knowledge of a life well lived in your service, and for which we give you our thanks,

In Jesus name, Amen.

Worship led by Sue Clarke

Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, The Saviour of the world; Creator of the universe; The true and living Word. Let every tongue confess Your Name, and bow the knee before Your hand of grace, giving You the highest praise.

Philippians 2 v 6-10 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

That’s why we’re here this morning, to praise the wonderful name of Jesus.

Song: Jesus is Lord   1387

God chose to assign His Son a name that represented who He is and what He was coming on earth to do. In Hebrew, the name Jesus comes from two words, Yahweh, meaning the LORD, and yasha, meaning saves. So Jesus's name means "the LORD saves." Or “The Lord of Salvation.”

Matthew 1v21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Acts 4 v12 “Salvation in found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. “

The name of Jesus compels us to worship Him and bring glory to God. Each person will one day come face to face with Jesus and will confess that He is Lord. It requires faith to believe in the power of Jesus' name.

Hebrews 11v6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

The name of Jesus is so powerful that the Bible tells us, in the verses in Philippians 2 we started with, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord! God gave Jesus the name that was above every name!

The literal name "Jesus" is not inherently powerful; it is powerful because of Jesus Christ, the person, God incarnate, who made a way for our salvation. When we talk about the name of Jesus, we are talking about Jesus Himself, His character and the things He does. Because of Jesus' sacrifice, God gave Him the most powerful name there is.

Romans 10 v13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Song: There is power in the Name    545

As mentioned  earlier, Jesus means saviour. This is His special role. He saves his people from the guilt of sin, by cleansing them in His own atoning blood. He saves them from the dominion of sin by putting in their hearts the sanctifying Spirit. He saves them from the presence of sin, when He takes them out of this world to rest with Him. He will save them from all the consequences of sin, when He shall give them a glorious body at the last day.

Ephesians 1 v7-10

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure in Christ, to be put into effect when the times have reached their fulfilment- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

 

Song: My hope is built-(Cornerstone)

Jesus not only came to bring hope. He is our hope. We have hope because Jesus forgives us and transforms us into his likeness. Knowing Jesus brings contentment regardless of material possessions, and joy despite difficult circumstances. Nothing can destroy this hope because it’s stored in heaven where no earthly power can touch it.

Psalm 18 v2 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.”

 

SONG: Jesus,  hope of the nations  

Those seeking salvation may draw near to the Father with boldness and have access with confidence through Christ. It is His role and His delight to show mercy.

John 3 v17 “For God didn't send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him.”

Jesus makes everything new. He gives us New life; Changed life; Purposeful life; Redeemed life; Abundant life; Eternal life; New! And that gives hope. Real hope.

Jesus is a name, which is especially sweet and precious to believers.

Isaiah 9 v6 And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace.”

Song: You were the word in the beginning [What a beautiful name]

Jesus gives us what money cannot buy – that is, inward peace. He can ease our wearied consciences and give rest to our heavy hearts.

The Song of Solomon describes the experience of many, when it says

Song of Solomon 1v 3Your name is like oil poured out”

Happy is the person who trusts in Jesus!

1 John 2 v2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Song: Jesus Christ I think upon    

Brian’s Message

One great thing about the Bible is that it is honest in the extreme – it doesn’t just paint a rosy picture of Christianity as the cure for all ills, the sort of story which finishes in effect with “and they all lived happily ever after”. It doesn’t just paint rosy pictures of apparently perfect people who live lives of total obedience to God. When necessary, it gives details of people’s failures, and of how God has had to deal with sin and wrongdoing in their lives. Think of people like Moses, Jonah, the apostle Peter, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, to name a few.

I want to take a brief overview of the life of Saul, the Old Testament king, in fact the first king of Israel. It’s a sad story of a life which could have been so different, were it not for some sad traits in his character which I hope we will learn from today.

To put Saul’s life in its historical context, after Israel had been led into the promised land by great leaders such as Moses and Joshua, the nation was ruled for over 300 years by a succession of judges. Some were good and strong, leading the nation to be obedient to God, and God blessed the people; others were determined to do their own thing, ignoring God’s commands, and allowing the Israelites to come under the authority of other nations as God reluctantly seems to have left his people to their own devices. He allowed them, his chosen people, to suffer defeat at the hands of their oppressors as they chose to ignore Him. But God in his mercy didn’t ignore his people, but provided some good wise leaders who depended on Him and were obedient to his commands, and sought God’s ways for the nation.

One of these was Samuel  – I guess we all know about the boy Samuel, the one who woke up the priest Eli when he heard a call in the middle of the night, and was told to respond with the words      “ Speak, for your servant is listening “  (1Sam 3: 10). The Lord then gave through Samuel some harsh words of judgement against Eli’s sons who sadly, his didn’t follow in their father’s footsteps, and perverted justice and pursued dishonest ways which greatly displeased the Lord.

We then read  (1Sam 3:19) that “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and let none of his words fall to the ground” .

Samuel grew to be a wise and respected ruler, prophet, and judge in Israel.

At the same time, the people were restless – they had suffered from corrupt priests and judges before and now wanted to be ruled by a King like other nations around them. You can imagine protest groups gathering outside Sameul’s hose, chanting “We want a king! We want a king!” Despite the many arguments and reasons Samuel put forward to the people for them to not have a king, the people still demanded to have one – so the Lord reluctantly granted them their wish, and Samuel was given the task of finding the right man for the job.

The first thing we know about Saul is his father’s name – Kish, and that he was from the tribe of Benjamin. The next thing we know is that he was an impressive young man, and taller than his compatriots. I guess he’d qualify as the “tall, dark and handsome” man still so sought after by the ladies even today. He would certainly have come out well on any popularity pole of the day.

One day Saul’s father discovered his donkeys had wandered off without permission, so he asked Saul to go out with one of his servants to search the countryside for them. Despite spending 3 days searching, there was no sign of the beasts. Saul had almost given up, and was ready to return home, when his servant reminded him there was a man of God in the nearby village. So they headed for the town, and on the way met up with Samuel. 

What Saul didn’t know was that God had already spoken to Samuel the previous day, telling him that he was going to meet a Benjamite who he was to anoint as the first King of Israel. This was no accident, no strange coincidence – it was part of God’s divine plan for his people.

As an aside, I wonder what things have happened in your life. even recently, which you have put down to being just “strange coincidences”? At times, we just need to be more honest and accept that things have happened by the gracious hand of our God, who always goes ahead of us when we seek to follow him in our daily lives.

So Samuel got on with his job as priest and prophet of God of anointing Saul to be king over Israel. This was of course a major turning point in Saul’s life’ and Samuel gave him a number of instructions as to where he was to go, and people he would meet. Samuel concluded his instructions by saying:    ”Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you and sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what to do.”

So Saul departed, in accordance with Samuel’s instructions. As an aside, we also find that his father’s donkeys had been found safe and sound.

But what a story – Saul began by searching for his father’s lost donkeys, and only a few days later he is to be anointed king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. He was later confirmed as king by the people. God’s grace had brought Saul to this place of blessing, but of course this wasn’t just so he could enjoy being king – God had a job for him to do. How well would he respond to his new role in life?

The next 3 chapters of 1 Samuel give a detailed blow-by blow account of the nation’s battles under the new leadership of Saul. They also reveal some sad aspects of Saul’s character, which ultimately lead to his downfall and loss of his kingship.

Saul’s problem was that he found it difficult to completely obey God. Disobedience is of course something we all know about only too well, especially if we have brought up children. He was also impatient, as is seen in the first sin of disobedience which I want to look at today.

Samuel had told him to wait until he himself arrived to make offerings to God. But with the hated Philistines threatening to invade, we read “ (1Sam 15: 7b – 10)”. Yes, the pressure was on, and Saul’s weaknesses come to the fore – we begin to see how dependent he really is on the Lord.

Saul took upon himself tasks that only Samuel as prophet and priest could do – he really couldn’t bother to wait for Samuel – and his actions were directly against God’s written laws.

When confronted by Samuel, he comes up with various excuses for his actions.

  • His followers were scattering
  • The Philistines were threatening to attack
  • Samuel was late arriving

When we fail, or let God down in some way, what do we do? Maybe we try to justify our actions by denying any significant wrongdoing, or we try to blame anyone but ourselves, or perhaps we try to make out it wasn’t really such a bad sin after all.

When we fail, what the Lord wants most is for us to recognise our faults and to be humble and honest enough to confess them to Him. He is after all very willing to forgive.

As we are reminded in 1John 1: 9 “If we CONFESS our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteous”. What a wonderful promise that is – but it does need action by us – we need to truly repent and confess our failures to God. Sin is really rebellion against God – pretending we know better and can get away with ignoring His rules and regulations.

Saul tried to cover up his sin, but as we shall see later, he was ultimately judged for his failures.

If we read on into ch. 15, we find another situation in which Saul once again disobeys the Lord’s instructions. Through his servant Samuel, God had told Saul to lead his army into battle against the Amalekites –  a nation which had opposed Israel when they came up out of Egypt. In fact they were to totally destroy the entire nation – men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys – you name it, and it was to be destroyed.

So what does Saul do? We find he and his army proceed to kill all the people as instructed, but spare their king Agag; they go on to keep for themselves the best of the sheep, goats and lambs – and everything which they liked the look of. They actually only destroyed what was worthless or of poor quality.

When Samuel next comes to visit, Saul claims first of all to have carried out the Lord’s commands. But then Samuel hears the unmistakeable sound of bleating sheep and lowing cattle.” What do I hear?” So Saul has to come clean, and admit that his army had indeed spared the best sheep and cattle.

Once again Saul has to try to excuse his disobedience by playing down its significance – and this time he blames others – his troops.  In mitigation, he also claimed their plan was to sacrifice the animals to the Lord. In response, Samuel tells him: (1Sam 15; 22 – 23).

Yes, Saul’s disobedience led God to deny him the continuing leadership of the nation – God was to raise up someone else to be king in his place, someone who would be a very different sort of king to Saul – perhaps we’ll look at him another day.

We can learn a number of lessons from the two bits of Saul’s life that we have looked at today.

  1. Saul had been mightily blest by God – a handsome young man, chosen by God to be king of the nation. What a privilege that was. What had he done to deserve this honour? Nothing. It was all down to the grace of God. How we need to give God the glory for all his blessings to us – what we are, what we have. Count your blessings – and remember to give God the glory. Acknowledge the grace of God in your blessings.
  2. Then there is the whole tricky subject of obedience. How good are we at being obedient? We are of course required by the laws of the land to obey the rules and regulations set out by the governing authorities – whether we like them or not. We may not like idiotic 20mph speed limits, but they are the law. Jesus said “Render to Caeser the things that are his”. But what about obedience to the laws of God – and to the teachings of Jesus? Are we sometimes guilty of by-passing the ones we don’t like too much – maybe its just not convenient at the time, so we hope God will perhaps forgive our momentary disobedience. The need to love our neighbours – to help people in genuine need – whatever the cost to ourselves in energy and time.
  3. Often the one thing that gets in the way of obedience is pride – we like doing things our way, after all “it’s my life, we only live once, and I’m jolly well going to live it in the way I choose” – that may well be the thinking of most people in the world today. But remember Paul’s teaching to young believers “You are not your own; you were bought at a price; therefore honour God with your body”. Honouring God surely implies complete obedience to his commands and his will for our lives. As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord, as we get closer to him by communicating more regularly with him, so we get to understand more of what he wants from us as we truly seek to be his humble servants. In our worship last week, we thought a little about “serving” – “I serve a risen Saviour” was our closing song. If you employ servants, be they workers of any kind, you expect them to do what you want when you want and how you want. How do we measure up as servants of the Lord? Are we always available for service, or do we clock off at 6 and claim the rest of the day as our own? How good are we at listening to our Master’s instructions – do they go in one ear and out the other – or do we listen carefully to what we are told to do and then get on with the job, however distasteful it might be at the time?
  4. Saul tried to talk his way out of the sins he had committed, but it was no use. God knew all about what he had done, above all he knew what was in Saul’s heart, and his excuses were in vain. It was no use blaming others – what he needed to do was to acknowledge his wrongdoings before God and seek his forgiveness and a change of heart. It’s no use us just as it were brushing our sins under the carpet, because God knows all about them. We can only seek his gracious forgiveness, and try with the help of the Holy Spirit to move forward, determined to make less mistakes in the future.

 

There are of course many other instances in the Bible of people who disobeyed God. Perhaps one of the most memorable was that of Moses – he and the people of Israel were in the desert of Zin, and the people were rising up against Moses and Aeron because of the lack of food and particularly of water for themselves and their animals. So Moses asks the Lord what to do, and is told to take his staff – the same piece of wood through which God had performed wonders in Egypt and all the years in the desert – and to stand before and speak to a rock, which will then produce water. So the people gathered together with Moses in front of the rock. Remember, all Moses had to do was to speak to the rock – because that was God’s command. Instead, Moses raised his arms and struck the rock twice with his staff, and water poured out. That kept the people happy – but God was far from happy with the way Moses had acted. As a result, neither Moses nor Aeron were allowed by God to enter the promised land – they had failed to trust God enough and to honour him before the people – a simple act of disobedience, but one which affected their future lives.

As we read earlier, God’s message through Samuel to Saul after he had been disobedient in his dealings with the Amalekites was this this . (1Sam 15: 22)  “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice”.

God wasn’t saying that sacrifice was unimportant, but he was urging Saul to look at his reasons for making the sacrifice rather than at the sacrifice itself. Unless he was truly repentant in his heart the sacrifice would be just a hollow ritual, with no meaning in God’s sight. What God really wanted was obedience to his voice.

Samuel went on to say that “rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry”. Saul had become both rebellious and stubborn – so he failed to live up to the standards God required for a leader of his people. These things still sadly keep people away from God  - how we need to guard against them, and ensure that we are ready and willing for God to have his rightful place as Lord of our lives as we listen and respond in obedience to his directions day by day.

In John 14:23, Jesus says “Anyone who loves me WILL obey my teaching. That’s a challenge. And we must never forget the great commission that Jesus gave his disciples in Matt 28 when he says ”Go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything I have commended you.” Jesus didn’t teach on the basis “It might be a good idea if…..” – his teachings were commands to be obeyed. May the Lord help us to listen and respond to his calls to us each day as we seek to bring honour and glory to Him.

 

Closing Song: When we walk with the Lord ……..  Trust and obey.