Notes of Meeting Sunday 20th February 2022

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting – 20th February 2022

Worship led by Dawn Budd

A few months ago, we sang a song that really hit me hard and I felt was really giving me a message from God. The last verse reads

“And from now on, through all my days

I vow to live each moment here for Jesus;

Not looking back, but giving praise

For all the Lord has done for this believer”.;

 

I found this verse challenging. Challenging to sing and to mean from the heart. To say I vow to live each moment for Jesus. A vow is a promise, and no one would like to think they may break a promise in the future, do they? But, unfortunately, that is just what we do. The amazing thing about that though is that God will always give us a second chance.

When we make that promise to God, we make a sacrifice. To surrender our old lives and to make a new one with Jesus at the centre.

 

SONG: Jesus, be the centre.

Paul wrote in Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer up your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true and proper worship”.

SONG”: I will offer up my life

The dictionary defines sacrifice as “a a voluntary relinquishing of something valued”. Wikipedia tells us it can be a verb, something you do - to offer as a gift. The word offer means that we have a choice of whether to or not.

When Abraham was asked to give Isaac, his only son as a sacrifice to God, he had a choice. He could have said NO to God, but he chose instead to obey Him. And because he chose to obey God, God rewarded him – see Genesis 22: 15 – 18.

SONG: All that I am

Now obviously God isn’t asking us to start giving our children as human sacrifices, but what does he want us to give?

Our worship, our praise, they signify our sacrifice to God.

Hebrews 13: 5 says “Through Jesus, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God – the fruit of lips that profess his name4”.

SONG: We bring the sacrifice of praise

SONG: What shall I bring?

Lastly, the song that triggered these thoughts. I had thought my topic would be surrender to God. But God kept giving me other songs to accompany the initial one. And it was clear that they all spoke of sacrifice, our sacrifice, and particularly His sacrifice for us.

SONG: He came to earth

Breaking of Bread – led by Ken Cowell

1 John 4 9-10 9.This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. 10. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.                                                                                                                                                                               There are several ways through which we can express our love to someone.  One of them is words.  Sometimes I take my grandchildren to school.  I notice often the last word a parent says to the child as they enter the school gate is “I Love you.”  Only three words but the children love to hear them.  God also expresses his love to us by words.  In Jeremiah 31.3 God says “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  In the context it refers to Israel but the application is for all God’s children which includes us.  

Some express their love by sending love letters.  It has been said that the Bible is God’s love letter.  “For God so loved the world.” (John 3.16) It would be difficult to count how many times it is recorded in the Bible that God loves us.                                                                                                                                                        Another way we show love is by spending quality time with a person.  How much time does Jesus spend with us?  He says: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20)  It also says he will be with us forever.  Jesus must love us a lot to want to spend so much time with us.                                                                                                                                                                                     The greatest expression of love is by the sacrifice of one’s life.  Jesus said: “Greater love has no-one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15.13) The love of the Father and Jesus His Son was shown to us his enemies.  At the cross we see two sacrifices.  The Father sent and sacrificed His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  The hymn writer tries to capture the sacrifice of the Father with these words “How great the pain of searing loss the Father turns his face away.”  That shows the Father’s great love for us and his grief in seeing His Son die for our sin.  The Son sacrificed his life so that we might have life.  Again the hymn writer shows us the sacrifice of the Son: “It was my sin that held him there until it was accomplished; his dying breath has brought me life I know that it is finished.” As we previously read “This is how God showed his love among us.” Before we pray and break the bread lets sing:                                                                                                                                              

SONG:  How deep the Father’s love for us.

 

William’s Message 

 

First reading  1 Tim 3 16

 

For most of the so called Christian world, Christmas is about a couple of weeks in December the world purported to remember the birth of a baby in a stable in Bethlehem. In towns and cities, the lights and decorations went on, parties were organised, the pubs and night clubs did good business (well in most years they did.).  In the more politically correct areas, there was no mention of Christ or Christmas for fear of offending other religions. I am not actually outraged by that as some are because the sort of celebrations in view are mostly nothing to do with Christ. Christ’s name is merely an excuse for excess and idolatry and all its accompanying behaviour is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the pagan temples in New Testament times.  However, where Christ was mentioned or portrayed it was as the baby of Bethlehem and if we concentrate only on that aspect of Jesus’ nature then in our “Christian” celebration and remembrance we are in danger of losing sight of Jesus’ true eternal nature. He is and ever was an integral part of the nature and person of God.

 If the great mass of people in the world give any thought to Jesus at all they generally think of him in this way. He was the baby of Bethlehem who grew up to be a good man who propounded a marvellous philosophy that Christians try unsuccessfully to follow and who then died a martyr’s death on a cross.  Indeed, many so called Christians have become conditioned by these rather insipid ideas about Jesus.  They focus on his humanity, his life on earth, the relationship that he has with us in which he calls us his friends and brothers. Now I believe that is Jesus’ prerogative. If he deigns to call us friend or brother I am honoured and humbled but when I speak to him or of Him I call Him “Lord.”  I approach him not as a brother or a friend but as one to whom all glory and power is given.

 

 The passages we are going to refer to have one thing in common. They describe visions, revelations and truths about one person and that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. In them we will see the eternal Son of God. 

 

 Reading: John’s Gospel Ch 1 v 1-18 

Here we see him as the Word who has been with God since the beginning. 

 Now in Revelation 19: 11- 16  we see another picture of Jesus

 Here we see Him as the “Word of God” from whose mouth comes a sharp sword and who is described as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

 I mention these matters because I believe that there is a great deal of confusion in people’s minds about God and Jesus Christ.

 In Jesus prayer in John’s gospel chapter 17, 1-5 Jesus, in his humanity prays to God the Father, 

“Father, glorify me now in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began…….” 

There we have Jesus himself referring to his eternal glory.

READ Isaiah 6 :1 - 4 

That passage tells us something about His glory. seated on a throne high and exalted the subject of angels’ worship. 

 For confirmation let us read John 12:41 “ Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him”

Revelation 20:11 - 15

Here is a different characteristic of Christ this time presiding over that awful infallible judgement.  

 So, where that does all this leave us when we consider the Christmas story?  Where does the babe of Bethlehem fit in?  It leaves us needing always to have a full picture in our minds of the eternal story. A story that begins with creation and man’s rebellion against God’s commands.  Rebellion against God is our natural way. We find it uncomfortable to follow his ways. We prefer our own ways and as a result the whole of the human race from Adam in Eden till to today is under condemnation.  This is made very clear by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans in Chapter 3 10 -18 and 23 – 24. 

So, the message of the Bible is that we have an offended, angry and awful God whose anger burns fiercely against sin. He cannot bear to look upon it and his justice demands that it be punished with death.  We die on earth because of Adam’s sin but there is a second death in view in which all sinners will be punished eternally. So, is the message doom and gloom? Is the message one of no hope? No! Of course not. As well as being a holy God, angered by sin, God is a God of compassion and right from the moment that sin came into the world and God pronounced judgement on sin and sinners, he provided a hope in which eternal life would be given instead of eternal death. It is here that the babe of Bethlehem features prominently in God’s plans. 

 

Throughout the Old Testament times God made it very clear that sin had to be dealt with by means of a sacrifice and these sacrifices simply pointed forward to the one great sacrifice of Calvary.  So, for a brief period of 33 years or so God, the eternal Word became a man, but a man without sin. He entered the world, not with all the majesty, glory and esteem that he had had with the Father from the beginning but with his glory veiled and he was born of a virgin in a filthy animal shelter. He lived a simple humble life of complete righteousness., He endured false accusations, the mocking and scorn of the establishment and the doubts of his own family who wanted to have him committed because they thought he was insane, Mark 3 20 – 21, but he walked that path to the cross, there to receive on himself the penalty for our sin.  All the wrath and judgement of a righteous, angry God fell on him.  We do not know, we cannot imagine, what that must have been like. The one who shared the glory of God was himself rejected by heaven as he died my death and yours on the cross. But that was not the end. Three days later God, in his mighty power raised him up and shortly thereafter he returned to his glory.  It is important to remember, therefore, that Jesus period of apparently weak and humble humanity was very brief in the scheme of things.

 

He was glorious, from eternity but for a time he laid that glory bye, but he is once again glorious. 

In Revelation 20 we saw him as a judge, but this is a dreadful judgement without hope.  This is the judgement of those who have lived their entire lives in rebellion against God. Those who said, “I do not believe.” Those who said and still say “We will not have this man to rule over us.” Those who rejected the good news of the Gospel.  Those who worshipped false Gods and idols.  Those who were deceived by false religions and false prophets. and all who have not been redeemed from the curse of sin and death will be judged according to their deeds.  It is here also that those evil people, some of whom may have escaped man’s inadequate justice on earth will be judged, not by a fallible human court that can make mistakes but by one whose justice is pure and righteous. 

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Many people are unhappy with this picture of Christ.  They prefer a comfortable Gospel that says God is too compassionate and kind to condemn anyone to eternal damnation.  However, they can be as uncomfortable as they like. It will not change God’s word. 

Jesus is clearly stated in the New Testament as the one who will judge the world.  John 5:24-30. This puts it beyond any doubt that Jesus will judge the unrepentant and evil dead, and condemn them.

Acts 17:31 For (God) has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.  He has given proof of this by raising him from the dead. 

In 2 Timothy 4 :1 Paul writes these words to Timothy, “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who will judge the living and the dead”

 Jesus himself once stood under judgement in the presence of the High Priest of Israel and endured mocking and scorn from a dishonoured kangaroo court. He stood in the judgement hall of Rome’s prefect of Judea, Pilate, and was beaten, spat upon and humiliated and then condemned to die as a matter of expediency.  These wicked men, who, in their wickedness, did God’s will by crucifying Jesus will, on that day if they did not repent of their wickedness, stand before that Great White Throne and the glorious risen Christ the Judge, and be dealt with according to the record of their deeds. 

But let’s get back to the baby of Bethlehem. The baby of Bethlehem was the product of God’s love for a fallen world and the working out of his great plan of salvation. The baby of Bethlehem was born to die for our sins in our place.  Why? To save us from the awful prospect and certainty of that Great White Throne judgement and the second and eternal death.  If I asked you to put up your hands if you wanted to face such a judgement, I am sure that not a single hand would go up. But that judgement is certainly there waiting for us unless, in the words of the passage we read, our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.  If our names are there, not only will we not face the condemnation of our own deeds and the just sentence but we shall not even stand before that awful judgement seat because either we will have been raised from the dead in the first resurrection or we will have been caught up to the Lord in the air without having gone through death. 

The Christmas message is a simple one.  It is a message of love.  God’s love to us, and the purpose of his love, is to save us from eternal judgement and condemnation.  The first step is repentance. We have to recognise that our lifestyles and values are self-centred, and we have to acknowledge that our lives are empty and worthless without God’s favour.  Without His favour we face God’s wrath meted out to us by the very one who came to save us.  The Christmas message could well be summed up by that Godly man who met the infant Jesus in the temple. 

 

“Now Lord let your servant depart in peace for my eyes have seen your salvation.” 

 

Do you see in the baby of Bethlehem your salvation? Do you acknowledge that you need to be saved from your sins and their consequences? When Simeon asked to depart in peace what he was saying was that now he could die in peace.  How will you face death? Will you face it with peace, or will you face it with fear knowing that there is a judgement to come because you did not respond to God’s offer of Mercy in Christ? Will you today leave this place secure in the knowledge that Jesus who was, and ever will be, glorious beyond description calls you friend and brother and presents you spotless before the Father in heaven or will you leave to face the Glorious awesome, terrible risen Christ as judge. You have a choice to make whether you like or not. We do not know how long each of has left. Today may be the last opportunity you have to receive the blessing of eternal life.

 

For those of us who have already availed ourselves of the gift of eternal life let us glory in the knowledge that our salvation was not accorded to us with reluctance or that it was grudged in any way.

 

Hebrews 12  2 … “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning the shame and sat down at the right and of the throne of God.”

 What was the joy set before Jesus?  

The answer is in the last two verses of Jude’s epistle. “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our saviour be glory majesty power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever, Amen “ 

Can you imagine it? The prospect of presenting me spotless before the throne, of presenting you spotless before the throne was the joy set before Him. 

Think of the babe of Bethlehem! Think of the man of Calvary and remember the humility was only a brief interlude between his past and eternal glory to which he takes us. 

However, as it is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

 Closing Hymn: Down from his glory ever living story,

 

Notices:

  1. Wednesday 7.30pm - Zoom bible study and prayer time
  2. Speaker next Sunday: Ian Crawford

POST MEETING NOTE

The Church Meeting planned for 27th Feb has now been postponed to 6th March