Notes of Meeting Sunday 21st February 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 21st February 2021

 

We welcomed David Murray from Workington as our speaker today.

 

Worship led by Ken Cowell

Revelation 1.9-12   9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”                                                                                                                                                                          Although these words were written over 2000 years ago by John the disciple of Jesus it is amazing how they are similar to our experience this morning.  John was in lockdown on the isle of Patmos.  We are in lockdown in Horley.  He was in lockdown because of persecution whereas for us it’s the pandemic.  He was involved in a thriving church in Ephesus but the persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian became very severe and as he was an influential leader there he was exiled to the isle of Patmos to silence him.  It was the Alcatraz of the Roman Empire so it wasn’t a nice place to be.  But there was one thing that made a huge difference.  He wasn’t alone, for Jesus was there too!  And we aren’t alone either for Jesus is with us too in the pandemic and the lockdown.  It was the Lord’s Day when Jesus spoke and appeared to John.  We are here this morning on the Lord’s Day and gathered in the name of Jesus and He is here because he has promised to be with those who gather in His name.  That’s the most wonderful fact about our meeting this morning.  It’s His presence with us that makes it completely different from any other meeting.  May we like John experience His Presence amongst us and hear Him speak to us all.  Let’s sing with faith and anticipation “Be still, for the Presence of the Lord, the Holy One is here.”

 

 

40        Be still for the Presence of the Lord is here  

 

 

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.

 

David J. Evans.

Copyright © 1986 Kingsway’sThankyou Music.

 

 

1067  To be on your presence

 

 

To be in Your presence,

To sit at Your feet,

Where Your love surrounds me,

And makes me complete.

This is my desire, O Lord,

This is my desire.

This is my desire, O Lord,

This is my desire.

 

To rest in Your presence,

Not rushing away;

To cherish each moment,

Here I would stay.

 

 

Noel Richards. Copyright © 1991 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music.

                                                                                                   

The presence of Jesus was made real to John by the Holy Spirit as he says “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit.”  Just because we are here on the Lord’s Day in the right place with the right people His children, it doesn’t mean we will automatically meet Jesus.  We too, like John need the Holy Spirit and be in the Spirit to experience the presence of Jesus amongst us.   One of the main works of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the things of Jesus to us and glorify His name amongst us.  Let’s ask the Holy Spirit in our next song to do just that. 

188    Holy Spirit we welcome you

 

HOLY SPIRIT, WE WELCOME YOU.

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Move among us with holy fire,

As we lay aside all earthly desires,

Hands reach out and our hearts aspire.

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Let the breeze of Your presence blow,

That Your children here might truly know

How to move in the Spirit’s flow.

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

 

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

Please accomplish in me today

Some new work of loving grace, I pray;

Unreservedly have Your way.

Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit,

Holy Spirit, we welcome You.

 

 

Chris Bowater. Copyright © 1986 Sovereign Lifestyle Music.

 

I’m sure when John got to Isle of Patmos he must have wondered why God put him there in such a terrible pace.  It certainly wasn’t his choice to be there as it’s not ours to be surrounded by this terrible virus with all its devastation.  John was in his 90’s when he went into exile.  He probably thought it was time for retirement and that God didn’t have any further work for him to do.  He was so wrong for God had planned that he had important letters to write to 7 churches and the place to do it was when he was in lockdown on the island.  Maybe we can’t understand at the moment why we are in lockdown but we believe God always has a purpose to work out all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to his purpose.   So that is why we can praise Him in both pleasant and painful circumstances as our next song shows 

1193    Blessed be your name

 

BLESSÈD BE YOUR NAME

In the land that is plentiful,

Where Your streams of abundance flow,

Blessèd be Your name.

And blessèd be Your name

When I'm found in the desert place,

Though I walk through the wilderness,

Blessèd be Your name.

 

Every blessing You pour out I'll

Turn back to praise.

When the darkness closes in, Lord,

Still I will say:

Blessèd be the name of the Lord,

Blessèd be Your name.

Blessèd be the name of the Lord,

Blessèd be Your glorious name.

 

Blessèd be Your name

When the sun's shining down on me,

When the world's 'all as it should be',

Blessèd be Your name.

And blessèd be Your name

On the road marked with suffering,

Though there's pain in the offering,

Blessèd be Your name.

 

You give and take away,

You give and take away.

My heart will choose to say:

Lord, blessèd be Your name.

 

Matt & Beth Redman

Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music

 

John not only heard Jesus but saw him and what a vision he had as he tells in the following verses.

Revelation 1.12-18 12 I turned round to see the voice that was speaking to me.  And when I turned saw seven golden lampstands. 13 And among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash round his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in the furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out his mouth came a sharp doubled-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.  Then he placed his right hand on and said: “Do not be afraid.  I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living one: I was dead, and behold I alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. 

This was the same Jesus that John walked, talked and lived with for three years when he was on the earth.  But he had never seen him like this exalted in heaven.  He was stunned by His majesty and glory.  His fear of all that was happening and would happen was taken away for he had seen his glorious victorious Saviour and Lord.  He was dead, but now is alive forever more with all authority and power.  He rejoiced in his triumph but at the same time fell down in worship.  Our Saviour is victorious over the virus and all that we will face and can take away our fear.  He will also be King and rule over all the earth.  Let’s rejoice in his exaltation and worship at his feet.

164     He is exalted the King is exalted on high

 

HE IS EXALTED,

The King is exalted on high,

I will praise Him.

He is exalted,

Forever exalted

And I will praise His name!

 

He is the Lord,

Forever His truth shall reign.

Heaven and earth

Rejoice in His holy name.

He is exalted,

The King is exalted on high!

 

 

Twila Paris.

Copyright © 1985 Straightway Music/Mountain Spring/EMIChristian Music Publishing/Adm. by CopyCare.

 

210     I give you all the honour

 

I GIVE YOU ALL THE HONOUR

And praise that’s due Your name,

For You are the King of glory,

The Creator of all things.

 

And I worship You,

I give my life to You,

I fall down on my knees.

Yes, I worship You,

I give my life to You,

I fall down on my knees.

 

As Your Spirit moves upon me now

You meet my deepest need,

And I lift my hands up to Your throne,

Your mercy I’ve received.

 

You have broken chains that bound me,

You’ve set this captive free;

I will lift my voice to praise Your name

For all eternity.

 

 

Carl Tuttle. Copyright © 1982 Mercy/Vineyard  Publishing/Adm. by CopyCare.

 

 

David Murray’s Message

From Despair to Delight – Psalm 13

 

The book of Psalms contains a remarkable set of ancient Hebrew poems reflecting many different aspects of human life in relationship to God. There are songs of joy, and songs of sorrow. There is praise and thanksgiving for what God has done for the writer, and there is “pure” worship , focusing simply on the beauty of what God is in himself, regardless of any blessings he may give.

 

Here in Psalm 13 we have a psalm of suffering and sorrow, often termed, a “Lament” The one who commences with questioning (“How long will you forget me? How long must I have sorrow in my heart?” - vs.1,2), who continues by pleading (“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Light up my eyes” - v.3), by the end is singing ("He has dealt bountifully with me" - v.6).

 

 

Verses 1 & 2 - His Questioning - How long

Four times over in these two verses we hear the cry, “How long …?” This psalm is a cry to God from one who is feeling overwhelmed by the troubles of life, and is especially relevant to our present day circumstances.

 

We can't say precisely what the circumstances were in the life of the original author, because he doesn’t tell us but whatever they were it seemed to him that the problems were never-ending, and he cries out to God in prayer, again and again,

"How long?". Whatever the original circumstances of its composition it was put here as something to be read, recited and sung by people going through many different kinds of long-term hardship. "Enemy" (v.2) can be generalised as anything and everything that crowds in upon the soul bringing dark thoughts, dejection, despair or even serious depression ("the sleep of death", v. 3, meant figuratively).

 

Note that he does not ask, "Why is this happening to me?" In some psalms of desperation the psalmist either explicitly or implicitly admits his sinfulness and sees this as the reason for his sense of divine abandonment - e.g. Ps. 6, but that is not the case here in Ps. 13.

 

In other Psalms there is an appeal to God for an explanation, Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1 ESV).

I say to God, my rock: “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:8-9). But I, O Lord, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? (Ps. 88:13-14).

In this Psalm 13, however, he is not demanding an explanation or claiming some kind of exemption from the troubles of life, but is simply asking "Lord, how much longer can this go on?" It seemed almost as though God had forgotten him, and had hidden from him.

 

And yet ...

1. The very fact that he is calling on the Lord implies that he expects to be heard even if this is not quite so strong as in Psalm 17:6 - “I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God.”

2. Also the question, "How long?" implies that there is going to be an end to it all, the uncertainty being about how far away it is. He has not given up on the idea of there being a future for him, but how much longer is he going to have to wait?

Walking over hills, we often climb thinking that the top of this next rise is going to be the summit, only to discover there’s another one ahead. This is often the way of life. Maybe it’s as well that we don’t know how many ups and downs there are going to be before the end of the climb. It might be too discouraging.

 

In his dealings with this church at Smyrna (today’s Izmir) the Lord tells them of the coming sufferings but reassures them that it is not going to be endless; he has placed a time-limit on it. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10, ESV)

In Psalm 13 the sufferer doesn’t have that degree of assurance, but nevertheless the way he words his complaint indicates that he does expect to be heard and he does expect the situation to come to an end.

Continuing his question - He’s at his wits’ end: Verse 2: How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? In this verse the NIV translation has, “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts?” It catches the sense of it very well. "Counsel" here is rational analysis of the situation; he was thinking it through for himself and we

can compare this with Psalm 16:7 in which he turns to the Lord for counsel: “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;”

Thinking it through for himself without the counsel of the Lord has just brought him greater sorrow, severe emotional turbulence under the pressure of it all, all the day long (and some ancient manuscripts of the psalm add “and all night”). It was all “exalted over me". That is, it was getting him down; he was giving way, wilting under the pressure.

 

Verses 3 & 4 - His Pleading

He pleads with God. “Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Light up my eyes .” In Psalm 38:10 the psalmist cries out, “My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes - it also has gone from me.” In our own day, for so many people, the light has gone out of their eyes. I see it so often as I watch people walking past my window.

In Old Testament times the people of Israel were exiles in Babylon and their own city had been largely destroyed. Certainly the light had gone from their eyes. But then came a period of relief when many were allowed to return and rebuild.

Ezra reminded the people that they were still slaves to the Persians, BUT ... ”Now for a brief moment favour has been shown by the LORD our God, ..... that our God may brighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our slavery." (Ezra 9:8, ESV).

Their problems weren’t over, but God had “brightened their eyes”.

 

Then he gives his reasons for the prayer - Three times (in the English Standard version) we read, “lest … lest … lest ...”

Firstly, his own condition: “lest I sleep the sleep of death” - This might have originally meant literally

his own physical death. Or it could be taken figuratively as depression, incapacity, feeling good for nothing, useless.

Secondly the effect on / attitudes of others; a reminder that people are watching.

lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” - pride of the enemy

*lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” - apparent collapse of the sufferer

This brings to mind the mockery of Psalm 22:7,8 - “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me;  they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

In their culture, in the nations around, misfortune was taken to indicate the displeasure of the gods. This mockery was therefore an expected consequence.The psalmist at other times pleads with God to bring his (or the nation’s) problems to an end because they’re going to have an impact not only on his own standing in the eyes of people around but also on his God’s own reputation. For example,

“Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” (Psalms 79:10; repeated in 115:2).

 

This may not be a widespread issue today in quite the same way, although proponents of the health and wealth teaching of the so-called Prosperity Gospel do often say that sickness and suffering is God’s discipline - which of course is possible, but should never be assumed and is probably rarely true. Certainly in society at large the connection between propriety and prosperity is not made in the way that it was in the ancient Hebrew culture. But  let those of us who are Christian always remember that people are watching.  How we as Christian believers respond to hardship and suffering influences people’s opinions not only of us but of the Gospel and of the Lord himself.

 

Verses 5 & 6 - His Singing

I’m reminded of the singing group, Boney M and “By the Rivers of Babylon”. I often wonder, when this is played at dances , how many realise that it is made up of verse from the Bible, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, When we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps Upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; And they that wasted us required of us mirth, Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of

Zion.” How shall we sing the LORD’s song In a strange land? (Psalm 137)

The exiled Jews, weeks of travel away from their own land, could not bring themselves to sing the songs of the Lord. But here in Psalm 13 we don’t find the mournful song of the Babylonian exiles. Rather, the light that he called for has now dawned. Salvation from his problems is still future but he now is confident; he has trusted. There’s an act of the will here, and in verse 6, he will sing to the

Lord.

The prophet Habakkuk was writing during a severe famine, yet he writes:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. … ” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Habakkuk’s response to the situation went against all human logic but his faith, based on past experience of God, enabled him to rise above all the hardship and to “joy in God”.

Bringing this into New Testament times and language, let’s think about

Philippians 4:4. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

In their culture, in the nations around, misfortune was taken to indicate the displeasure of the gods. This mockery was therefore an expected consequence.

The psalmist at other times pleads with God to bring his (or the nation’s) problems to an end because they’re going to have an impact not only on his own standing. Notice this is not Paul writing to say, “I hope you’re keeping cheerful in spite of everything.” No, it was a pastoral instruction, “Rejoice!” Difficult? At times, very definitely so, but he doesn’t fail to remind them of how it becomes possible.

Shortly afterwards he says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. ..... And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

As we move into the last verse of our psalm the poet’s problems have not yet gone away but God “has been good to him” (NIV). Translated literally this is: “dealt bountifully with him”. See how it fits Paul’s words: “passes all understanding”.

As one writer on the Psalms put it: The Lord “bestows his benefits not in small measure but in fullness, so as to give his children the experience of complete and free deliverance.”

 

Just like Paul who received from the Lord the assurance,“My grace is sufficient”, the psalmist’s present situation is changed, but this is not because his external circumstances have changed. Rather, it is but because his internal attitude has changed - from doubt to trust, from despair to the delight of a certain hope.

 

As we face long-term challenges in our lives and cry out to God, “How long”, let us ask ourselves: Are we succumbing to despondency or singing with delight at God’s faithful love?

 

Through all the changing scenes of life,

In trouble and in joy,

The praises of my God shall still

my heart and tongue employ”

O magnify the Lord with me,

With me exalt his name;

When in distress to him I called,

He to my rescue came.

 

Closing Song - 1972   My heart is filled with thankfulness       

 

 

MY HEART IS FILLED WITH THANKFULNESS
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me with His light,
And wrote His law of righteousness
With power upon my heart.


 

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose every promise is enough
For every step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who reigns above;
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace,
Whose every thought is love.
For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King.
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow Him.

 

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
Copyright © 2003 Thankyou Music

Notices

  1. Next Sunday, we will be sharing in the Breaking of Bread, and our speaker will be Ken Cowell.
  2. Also, remember our Church Members Meeting, on Zoom at 12.15pm.
  3. The World Day of Prayer is on Friday 5th March at 2.00pm on Zoom – details next week.
  4. The Church Accounts for 2020 are enclosed  for you to review before the Members Meeting.
  5. Bible Study – Wednesday evening at 7.30pm on Zoom. Please email me for details.