Notes of Meeting Sunday 17th October 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 17th October 2021

The service began by remembering in our prayers the tragic death this week of Sir David Amess, a Southend MP who had served his constituents so well, and had supported many good causes.

WORSHIP led by Brian Legg

Be thankful – we can be here! Think of those who for various reasons can’t be in a place of worship today:

  • Those unable or fearful of leaving their homes
  • People In hospitals or care homes
  • Those without means of transport
  • Some working necessary shifts to care for others or to keep the lights on in our country
  • Those living in countries where believers cannot meet because of the oppressive regimes which deny people the simple freedom to worship together, because the rulers fear such gatherings will jeopardise their control over the population

Be thankful we have a warm and safe building in which to meet together.

And be thankful that the Lord has given us a desire to come together – be it here or on Zoom.

Our first song is one of worship, reminding us into whose presence we have come. Not any old dignitary or king, but the King of kings, the Lord God himself. I want us today to focus very much on the Kingship of Jesus.

1203       Come, let us worship the King of kings

PRAYER – of thanks

Our next song reminds us again that He is a reigning king.

137         God of glory we exalt your name (x2)

Last week Euan Menzies opened up chapter 5 of the book of Revelation, and entitled his talk “A glimpse of heaven”. It was what God had revealed to his servant John while he was in exile on the isle of Patmos, and he saw 4 specific things in heaven – a throne, a scroll, a Lamb, and some singers doing what they do best – singing!

Today, we have that enormous privilege of coming before the same Lord God himself – yes, he’s invited us to come before him with our praise, however poor it may seem to us.

Do we sometimes come in fear before the Lord – perhaps we feel we’ve let the Lord down in some way in the past week, so we are fearful of what he might say to us. The wonderful thing is that he welcomes us as we come to him just as we are – as we open up our hearts to Him, and recognise Him for who He really is.

Maybe we do need to come in confession – I guess we’ve all failed the Lord in the things we’ve done or said this week, or maybe in the things we’ve not done or said.

The Psalmist David kept coming back to the Lord in confession, seeking his mercy, and depending upon his faithfulness

Psalm 25: 4 – 11

Our next song focuses on the majestic nature of our God.

355        Lord, how majestic you are

Remember – our God is slow to anger, he’s compassionate, he understands our weaknesses, and takes joy when we come to him and seek his forgiveness.

But remember too who he is – the King of kings – let’s honour Him with our next two songs - firstly

379         Majesty, worship his majesty (2)

Our next song continues the theme of God’s majesty. Looking in my Thesaurus, under “majesty” I find a wonderful array of words which show the richness of our English language:

  • Dignity
  • Magnificence
  • Grandeur
  • Splendour
  • Glory
  • Awe-inspiring

How wonderfully these words apply to our God. Now for another song, again speaking of the majesty of the Lord we are worshipping today.

1404       King of kings, majesty (repeat v1)

Did you notice the second line “God of heaven, living in me”?

Isn’t that amazing – that the God who inhabits heaven itself is also willing to live within you and me, to guide us and be our strength day by day?

But you know when he comes in, He needs to make a few changes – for some of us a lot of changes! How does he do that? Well, it’s the gracious work of the Holy Spirit who he gives to each of us - he works in our lives in sometimes mysterious ways so that the name of the Lord is honoured.

But do we want him to change us – sadly we are often content to stay as we are – how we all need to invite the Holy Spirit to so work in our lives that we become more like Jesus as we seek to serve him day by day.

311        Jesus, you are changing me

Shortly, we’ll be having our prayer time. Before that, the words of our last song remind us about the faithful God we have who is with us throughout all the storms of life.

894         Lord, I come before your throne of grace

Message – Ken

Lord Teach us to Pray       Luke 11.1,      1 Kings 3. 3-15

“What a friend we have in Jesus” is one of the most popular hymns in the world.  One of the lines says, “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”.  This hymn has been a great comfort to Christians all over the world in the matter of prayer.

 What are the motivations for us topray?

First of all praying to God about our trials and troubles is a great privilege and gives us much comfort and strength. Not only is prayer a privilege but it is accompanied with so many wonderful promises.  For example, Jesus says “I will do whatever you ask in my name” (John 14.13)   How wonderful that God promises to listen and answer our prayers.  What better incentive is there for us to pray!  Prayer is the way we can develop our fellowship with God and get to know Him more intimately.  It is also through prayer that God’s power is experienced. Why must prayer be a priority?  It’s simple, because when we work, we work, but when we pray, God works.  His work is far more effective than ours, for He can even do the impossible.  With the privilege to pray to God, many promises to encourage us and the power of God to experience, why don’t we pray more often?  I’m sure we all agree that our prayer life as individuals and as a church could be much more effective.  We too, like the disciples would come to Jesus and plead, “Lord, teach us to pray.”                                                             

What hindrances must I overcome to pray?

Prayer is so difficult, but why is it so?  There are many reasons.  One main reason is that the devil knows the power of prayer and does all he can to stop or hinder us from praying.   He’ll allow us to do anything else except pray.  It has been said that “the devil trembles when he sees the weakest saint praying upon his knees.”   He even fears the weakest saint praying.  Because when we pray, we tap into God’s power, which can overcome all the devil’s strategy and power.  Prayer is our most important weapon in our spiritual warfare against the devil.  We also have a sense of inferiority in prayer, believing we aren’t good enough to pray as, though it is only for the expert, those who are more spiritual.  Sometimes we don’t know what to say or what to pray for.   We feel so helpless and believe nothing can happen when we pray.  That is the devil’s lie.  Prayer is a conversation between a child and his heavenly Father.  We have thought that prayer is only for so called “elite Christians”.  True there are some people that God uses in a special way in prayer, but that doesn’t mean we can opt out.  A few days ago, I bought this book and the title grabbed me.  It said, How to Pray-a simple guide for normal people.  Believe it or not, I’m a normal person. That is especially true when it comes to prayer.  I realise my need to become more effective in prayer.  Is that how you feel too?                                                                                                                                                                 Prayer is like a discipline that you need to continue to do when sometimes you don’t feel like doing it.  I go for a walk most mornings in Tilgate Park, knowing it is good for my health. But now as the mornings are getting darker and colder it is tempting to give it a miss.  That’s how I feel about prayer sometimes.  I prefer to read my Bible, study or watch TV rather than pray.  In fact, when I don’t feel like praying that is often the time when I need to pray  the most.

There are also other problems which make prayer difficult.  One of them is the doubts we have before we pray.  We are told “he must believe and not doubt” (James 1.6) as we ask in prayer.  That could easily discourage us from praying at all, feeling we don’t have the faith.  Yet in scripture there are those who came to Jesus with their doubts, like the man whose son was possessed with demons and cried out to Jesus “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9.24). Jesus healed his son on the basis of the faith he had, not what he didn’t have.  There are times when we don’t have perfect faith but we can come to Jesus with the little faith we have.  In the book of Acts, the church were praying for Peter in prison and when God set Peter free and Peter came to the place where the church gathered and knocked at the door, but they didn’t believe it was Peter. They obviously believed that Peter was still in prison and didn’t believe God could answer their prayer, but God still answered it.  What an encouragement to us when we feel we haven’t enough faith.

Another factor that can discourage us in prayer is the delay in receiving the answer.  We like the answers to come quickly because we live in an instant generation culture.   We like to pray on Monday and get the answer on Tuesday or at the very latest on Thursday.  However, God’s time frame is different from ours and he isn’t in such a hurry.  George Muller “prayed in” more than £5.7 million in the nineteenth – century. (today’s equivalent £86 million). He also prayed for five men to become Christians.  The first man became a Christian after 5 years, the second and third after ten years and the fourth after twenty five years.  The fifth man became a Christian a few months after his funeral.  He had prayed for him for fifty-two years.  George Muller never doubted God would answer his prayer and said his faith increased through the trials and waiting.  Sometimes praying is like the road works we often meet with the sign “Expect Delays”.  We think the work will never end like the smart motorway on the M23.  But one day it happened and now it’s a joy to make the journey quicker.  Keep praying, believing and waiting.

We have all experienced disappointment when our prayers have not been answered.  We pray with the expectation to see our request granted and feel discouraged when God doesn’t grant it.  Paul must have felt disappointed when he prayed for God to remove his “thorn in the flesh” but God didn’t do it.  It was obviously a trial that he felt he could do without as he prayed for it to go three times.  But God told Paul the reason he didn’t remove the thorn.  It was so he would remain humble and not become proud.  If he became proud it would hinder his service for God.  Paul knowing the reason for God not to remove the thorn would satisfy him and free him from anxiety.  Sometimes later we often understand from future events why God didn’t answer our prayer at the certain times.  

There are times when God doesn’t answer our prayers and it causes not only disappointment but also dismay, for we can’t understand why he allows us to suffer and not be healed or delivered.  This is the case with Colin Holmes having to suffer with motor neurone disease.  Many have prayed for his healing but it hasn’t taken place.  At such times this can be a difficult test of our faith in God.   Though we can’t understand God’s ways we must by faith continue to believe that God is still in control and is working out His purpose for our good.  So, these are some of the situations which make it difficult to pray.                                                                                                                                       

An Example of an effective prayer   (1 Kings 3.3 - 15)

Let’s become more positive about prayer. This is the prayer of Solomon.  He had just become king and was probably only in his teens.  So, this is the prayer of no expert, in fact it’s his first prayer.  How do we know it was an effective prayer?  Firstly, his request “pleased God” (v10) which is another way of saying it was according to God’s will.  Then when God answered his request he even gave him blessings he didn’t ask for like riches and honour (v13). To pray effectively we need to ask for things that are God’s will.  Forget about the Jaguar you would like to have.  It was God who took the initiative saying to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (v5). Jesus gave the disciples and us the same invitation in the New Testament. “Ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7.7).  It is important to note that before God said this, it tells us that Solomon loved the Lord and obeyed his commands (v3).  However, his obedience wasn’t perfect, for he was still offering worship in places where other gods were worshipped.  We too, don’t need to be perfect to see God answer our prayers, but we do need a heart that loves God and seeks to obey his word.

Why did God answer Solomon’s request? Firstly, he approached God with the right attitude.  Three times he addresses himself as “your servant” (v7-9). He wasn’t praying to tell God what to do, but to find out what God wanted him to do.  God was the Master and Solomon was the servant.  He also refers to himself as a “little child” (v7), showing his humility and helplessness. In the eyes of the people he was king with power and authority. But before God he recognised that he was so weak and God was the powerful one. We must remember that God’s power is made perfect in weakness.  He prayed for three things and we too can pray for the same things.

1.  For God’s honour and glory. 

Solomon wanted to lead the people of God in God’s way and for God’s honour. The only way we can honour God is to do things in His way, which means walking in obedience to his word.  He sought God’s glory not his own.  Solomon knew from David his father’s reign, that if God was put first, the nation would be blessed.  We also are commanded “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6.33).                                                                                                 

2. For the blessing of the people of God  

He sought to govern them wisely teaching them to distinguish between right and wrong.  That needed him to be an example as well as teaching them. God had gifted him to serve and bless them.  We too are called to serve each other and esteem each other better than ourselves.  Paul exhorts us to “serve one another in love” (Galatians 5.13)

3. For himself to serve God and his people faithfully

In order to do that, he asked for a “discerning heart” (v8).  What it really meant was a listening and understanding heart.  He needed to listen to God in order to guide the people in God’s ways.  Our personal relationship with God is so vital to maintain in order to serve God and his people faithfully.  God was pleased when he heard Solomon’s requests and was pleased to grant them.  But the blessings were conditional on Solomon’s continual walking in God’s ways and obedience to His word.  Sadly, he failed to do that being led astray by his many wives, and even worship of other gods.  Solomon made a great start with a wonderful prayer.  May God help us to follow this example and also go on to walk with God faithfully in obedience, that we will see God answer many more of our prayers in the future.

Closing Song:

Father I Place into your hands (97)

 

Notices

  1. Speaker next Sunday will be Brian Legg
  2. The memorial service for Carole Jones will be held on Wednesday 27th October at 1.30pm at St Francis’ Church, Balcombe Road.