Notes of Meeting Sunday 23rd October 2022

Worship led by Sue Clarke

When I was away, one of my daily readings was on Psalm 66

The word awesome kept coming back to me

The dictionary definition of the word “awesome” is: wonder and respect mixed with dread; extremely impressive or daunting.   The dread and daunting threw me a bit when I looked it up, but if you go further and look at those I came up with -anticipation with apprehension, and I think that probably helps us understand the healthy fear that is embraced in the word awesome.

There are so many synonyms for the word awesome“ (that’s a word that means exactly the same, or as near as possible)
breathtaking · amazing · stunning · astounding · astonishing · awe-inspiring · stupendous · staggering · extraordinary · incredible · unbelievable · magnificent ·wonderful· spectacular · remarkable · phenomenal · prodigious · miraculous · sublime · formidable · imposing · impressive · wondrous.

Today we are going to be basing our worship around the word awesome.

Psalm 66 v 1-5

Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Song the glory of His name; make His praise glorious! Say to God “How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies cringe before You. All the earth bows down to You; they sing praises to You, They sing praise to Your name.

Come and see what God has done. His awesome deeds for mankind.

I found these words in a songs of fellowship song (no 1680 if you want to look it up later)

“Your voice is the voice that commanded the universe to be. Your voice is the voice that is speaking words of love to me.”

How can it be?

Awesome God, Holy God, I worship You in wonder.

Awesome God, Holy God, as You draw near, I’m humbled by Your majesty and the mystery of Your great love for me!

Your arms are the arms that flung stars in deepest space. Your arms are the arms that surround me in a warm embrace. Amazing grace. Awesome God!

Psalm 66 v5 (continued)  “Come let us rejoice in Him.”

SONG: O Lord my God   425

Many adjectives describe God, but the word awesome brings about more awe just trying to define it. The word "awesome" itself presents a feeling beyond the ordinary. The word "awesome" means beyond our normal comprehension. With our limited mind we cannot phantom the heights, or depths that the word conjures up. The word "awesome" is so powerful that there is really no other word to define it. The closest and most human definition of awesome is "utter amazement," "extreme wonder."


Nehemiah 9 v5-6 “Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is in it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything and the multitudes of heaven worship You.”

SONG: Our God is an awesome God  453

Psalm 68 v35 “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary. Praise be to God.”

Philippians 2 v9 “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.”

SONG: We declare Your majesty    577

Anyone who can speak the world into existence is awesome. Anyone who can make a world out of a formless void is awesome. Anyone who can rescue three Hebrew boys out of a fiery furnace without getting burned or smelling like smoke is awesome. Anyone who could hold back the sun while Joshua finished his battle is awesome.


Deuteronomy 32 v3-4 I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh praise the greatness of our God.  He is the rock. His works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.

Revelation 4 v11 You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

SONG: Worthy O worthy     617

Throughout the Old and New Testament, we read of the mighty awesome acts of God. One is no more awesome than the next one, but you must admit that there is one that is the ultimate example of the awesomeness of God that affects us personally. We’ll be reflecting on that ultimate act of the cross, when we share the breaking of bread

Only our awesome God gives us strength and power to surrender our entire lives to Him, trusting Him with our whole heart, leaning on Him and not on our own understanding. Only our awesome God!

Nehemiah 1 v5O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands.”

Psalm 27 v4 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”

SONG: You are beautiful beyond description   621

 Breaking of Bread (led by Ken)

Colossians 2 : 13-14 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away.  Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.  He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away nailing it to the cross. (NLT)

One of the biggest problems in our country today is debt.  The government owes billions of pounds having borrowed so much to help people at this difficult time.  Many are in debt with their mortgages, rent, fuel bills and repayment of loans.  We had a massive spiritual debt before God.  That debt began at birth.  David speaking for us all says “For I was born a sinner-yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51.5)  We added to that debt as we sinned every day.  What a colossal debt our sin must have grown to be.  We had no hope of paying it off, because we were spiritually dead unable to do anything.  We couldn’t pay the debt for even one sin. We were just waiting for the day of reckoning when we would be condemned to separation from God forever.  Then one day we heard great news that God could forgive all our sin.  It seemed too good to be true.  Did God turn a blind eye to our sin and wrote it off as bad debt?  No he couldn’t do that.  He was holy and just so our sin had to be punished.  What could he do to save us?  He sent his Son into the world to pay our debt.  Our sins were nailed to the cross when Jesus died and were taken away never to be remembered again.  But this morning we are here to remember and thank Jesus for paying the debt for all our sin.  Let’s pray.

Ken Cowell’s Message

Safety from Judgement                  Genesis 6. 1-9

The story of Noah provokes at least two popular responses.  Firstly, it is a story that can’t be believed to have happened, rejecting the idea that a flood could cover the whole world.  So it is regarded as a legend and not as a fact.  According to H.S. Bellamy an English professor, there are as many as 500 flood legends recorded in the history of many countries.  Countries such as China, Babylonia, Russia, India, America, Wales etc, all have their own version of a giant flood.  The Japanese character for boat is made up of two parts. One refers to a vessel and the other part is the number 8 which is the number of people saved in the ark.  There is a lot of scientific and archaeological evidence also that supports a universal flood. The most important reason to believe in the story of Noah and the universal flood is that Jesus himself believed it!  He says, “As it was in the days of Noah so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24: 37)   In these words he actually compares the judgement of Noah’s day with the judgement that will take place when he comes again to this world.  For Jesus the story of Noah and the flood is not fantasy but fact.                                                                                                                                                                         The story of Noah is also unpopular because it deals a God who judges and punishes the world.  We prefer to hear about a God who loves and forgives people.  However, if we took justice out of our world, it would be a terrible place.  Imagine no punishment for stealing, lying, violence, slander and murder.  The world would be a far more dangerous place. Having established the fact of the flood, the next question is why did the flood take place?  It didn’t just happen by chance but it was sent by God.    The reason God sent the flood is clearly stated in verse 5, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”  Man’s wickedness begins in his heart.   The heart of the problem of man is the problem of his heart.  We are all born with a sinful heart and that is why we sin.  When the bible speaks of the heart it is not referring the heart that pumps the blood around the body, but it is the centre of our being involving our thoughts, emotion and will.  Sins of the heart are serious as well as the acts done outwardly.   Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  We will be accountable to God not only for the sins we commit in the open but also for those we do in our hearts and mind.   The sins in the hearts of the people were so deep that every motivation in their thoughts was evil continually.  It manifested itself in sexual immorality, violence and all manner of corruption   God was grieved by man’s sin and judgement had to come unless there was repentance.  The flood was God’s judgement upon man’s sin and wickedness. It would be easy to think that our generation is far better than the one in the time of Noah.   Yet a closer look at today’s society isn’t so much different from that of Noah’s time.  We are living in days of much sexual immorality where divorce and family breakdowns are on the increase.  We are seeing domestic, national and international violence going up at an alarming pace. We are living in a world where right is wrong and wrong is right and the moral values on which our society have been built are being discarded.                                                                                                                                                              Jesus said that the sins of Noah’s generation will be the same in the world when he comes to bring judgement.  “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”    God warned Noah’s generation of his judgement through the preaching of Noah and the sign of the ark before their eyes.   Sadly only 8 people took heed to the warning and were saved and all the others perished.  Today we see God’s warning signs of his coming judgement through wars, earthquakes, famine, climate change and pestilences, but so many people disregard his warnings.  The story of Noah has great relevance for our day for God’s judgement will again come to our world                                                                                                                                                 The second reason for God’s judgement in Noah’s day was because of who God is and what he must do. God is holy and cannot turn a blind eye on sin.  He is also just and righteous and must punish sin.  We see the need of justice in our own world, and we all agree that those guilty of a crime should be punished.  God’s standard is far higher than ours and his justice is perfect and fair. We must remember that God’s final judgement for everyone isn’t on this world but beyond death.  The Bible says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement.” (Hebrews 9.27)  The bible makes it clear that mankind will be raised from the dead to face judgement for their sin.  That is the real judgement we need to prepare for.                                                                                                                                                 We see that God is a God of justice and so must punish sin.  But most of all we thank God that he is also the God of salvation.  The story of Noah and the flood is a message of God’s deliverance from judgement.  But it was only for those who wanted it and were prepared to repent and receive God’s way of salvation.  Sadly for those who refused to repent and believe, God’s judgement was the only alternative. There was no middle ground.  It was either salvation or destruction.  God provided a way of deliverance for all to be saved through the ark which Noah built. The fact that Jesus contrasts his second coming with judgement with Noah’s flood bringing judgement is very significant.  The judgement of the flood for Noah’s generation is a foreshadowing of the judgement that will come when Jesus returns to earth.  In the history of the world these are the only two events that speak of judgement on a worldwide scale. The judgement that comes when Jesus returns is much more important than the one in Noah’s day, for it’s a judgement after which there will be no further opportunity for mankind to repent.

When Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”  He is saying there are various similarities between both events, particularly in the way people are saved from judgement.  In both cases there is only one way to be saved.  For Noah it was the ark and it was the only place to deliver people from the flood.  The water went above the mountains so there was no place to run for safety.   The ark was the only means of salvation. What about the way of salvation from the final judgement that we will face.  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”                                                                                         

It may not be popular these days to say Jesus is the only way.  But Jesus hasn’t changed his view.  It is as true today as when he first said it. It’s either the truth or a lie.  Most people regard the words of Jesus as wise and reliable.  For example, “do to others what you would have them do to you.”  If we believe what he said then was true and reliable, we must also believe him when he says he is the only way to heaven.  The disciples of Jesus said the same about Jesus after he rose from the dead.  “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”  Only the ark could save Noah and only Jesus can save us.                                                                                                          There was only one reason why Noah was saved.  What made Noah different from all those who perished in the flood?  God states it clearly.  “But Noah found favour (grace) in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6.8)   What does the word “grace” mean?  It points to God’s unconditional love in providing salvation as a free gift.  God’s salvation isn’t something we can merit, or earn or even deserve.   There’s nothing to work for because Jesus finished the work for our salvation on the cross.   There’s no sin to be punished for because Jesus has already taken our guilt and punishment in our place on the cross, so we are forgiven. God’s grace has provided salvation and all we need to do is receive it.                                                                                              

 It is easy to think that because God calls Noah a righteous man that he earned that title by his good works.  In the New Testament it points out clearly how he obtained his righteousness.  “By faith Noah, when warned of things not seen as yet, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.  By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness by faith.” (Hebrews 11.7)   In this verse the phrase by faith occurs three times and at the end of the verse it clearly states he, “became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.”  How did Noah come to have faith?  He heard God’s message, believed it and obeyed God’s instruction to build the ark.  In the New Testament we hear the good news of salvation, repent and obey it.  Jesus states the gospel in his first message. “Repent and believe the good news” The first action to be saved is repentance. Faith without repentance cannot bring salvation.  The people of Noah’s day didn’t want to turn from their sin.  God can save anyone but they must start with a change of mind and direction about sin.  Having turned from our sin we are now ready to believe the good news.  It’s then when faith brings salvation ”Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  There was also only one door into the ark.  One had to be inside the ark to be safe from judgement. It was no use just looking at the ark you had to be inside the ark to be saved.  Even to go as far as the door without entering would not save anyone.  You had to enter by the door to be safe.  Jesus says, “I am the gate whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10.9) Jesus himself is the way into salvation.                                                                                           

John Stott a well-known bible scholar said, “The commonest description in the bible of a follower of Jesus is that he or she is a person “in Christ.”  In Paul letters the phrase “in Christ”, “in him” and “in the Lord” is used 164 times.  It must be important to be used so                                                                                          many times.  What does it mean to be “in Christ?”                                                                                                          It is not like having tools in a box or clothes in the wardrobe.  It is like having a limb connected to the body or a branch connected to the trunk of a tree. It speaks of an intimate person relationship with Jesus, the union of sharing his life like the branch shares in the life of the tree.  This relationship is transforming for the bible says “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” That is what happens when I am “in Christ.”  How do I enter this relationship of being “in Christ?”

 As I enter the door into  Christ so must Christ enter through the door into my life.  Jesus calls in Revelation 3. 20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”   When I receive Christ into my life, it is then where I enter into Christ and the transformation begins and I become a new creation in him.  Have you ever asked Christ into your heart and life?  Being “in Christ” is having this personal relationship with Christ where I grow to know and love him more.                                                                                                                                                                        When the flood came the people in the ark were completely safe and secure from destruction.  The ark received the battering of the storm and flood but they were completely at peace and safe.  There was no salvation or peace outside the ark.  One of the blessings of being “in Christ” is the security of knowing that you are completely safe from God’s judgement.  Romans 8.1 declares, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

 A man once came to D.L. Moody the well-known evangelist and said he was worried because he didn’t feel saved.  Moody asked, “Was Noah safe in the ark?“ “Certainly he was,” the man replied. “Well, what made him safe, his feeling or the ark?”  The inquirer got the point. “How foolish I’ve been!” he said. “It is not my feeling; but Christ who saves.   With Christ as our Saviour and Refuge we are eternally secure. As we used to sing at Sunday school “With Christ in the vessel we can smile at the storm.”   Having Christ with us and in us enables us to overcome the trials and temptations from the outside and the doubts and fears that attack us on the inside.                                                                                                  Does God delight in seeing the sinner judged and punished?   Not at all, the Bible says, “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter: 3.9)    We see God’s patience long before the days of Noah as His Spirit pleaded with the people to repent for over 1600 years from the time of Adam.  Then when God warned them about the flood he gave them another 120 years as Noah built the ark.  As he was building the ark he was also preaching to the people that they should repent.  Sadly apart from Noah’s family of 8 no one else repented.  God reminded them that he will not plead and wait forever,  “My Spirit will not contend with man forever,” (Genesis 6:3)   After 120 years of waiting God shut the door of the ark and their opportunity to repent and be saved was gone.                                                                                                                                                                                When God warned Nineveh of judgement through Jonah he gave them 40 days to repent.   Jonah proclaimed “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”                                             

What happened to Nineveh?  The king of Nineveh and all the people repented.                                                What was God’s response?  We read, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”  God does the same today when people repent.  We read that there is rejoicing amongst the angels even over one person who repents.  We don’t know when Christ will return but we are commanded to be ready.   Like in the days of Noah the flood took the people by surprise and they were calling for God to save them but it was too late for God had shut the door of the ark.  The only time we can be sure of is now that’s why we are told that, “Now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation” (2. Corinthians 6.2)   Let’s make sure we don’t call on him when it’s too late.                                                                                                                                                                               Did God just send the flood just to punish the wickedness of mankind?  Does God’s purpose finish in judgement with nothing left?  No. God wanted a new beginning so Noah came out the ark to a new world.  God couldn’t populate his new world with wicked people of the old world.  He started with Noah’s family who worshipped and obeyed God.  Mankind, albeit with its sin, has continued and will do so until the judgement again comes when Jesus returns to earth.  What’s God’s purpose after all judgement is finished?  How does the last chapter of the bible end?  It is not with judgement but with a new heaven and earth with no sickness, no sorrow, no pain, no suffering, no darkness, no sin and no death.  It will be populated by people redeemed by Christ with new glorious bodies that will be incapable of sin.  We will worship, serve and reign with God and Christ forever.  Is it any wonder that the last prayer of the Bible is “Come, Lord Jesus?”  How do we keep going until Jesus comes?  The last verse of the Bible gives us the answer and takes away our fear and anxiety. “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”       

Closing Song: In Christ alone