Notes of Meeting Sunday 26th September 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 26th September 2021

 

Worship led by Sue Clarke

1John 4: 7 – 12 – which focuses on “God is love”

John 3: 16 – 17 – God so loved …….

This is the good news – that God’s love justifies our lives and fills us with hope for the future. Even death has no dominion over those who love and are loved by the Lord. Jesus loves us just as God the Father loved Him and, in this truth, we can rest secure and at peace.

Thank God that His love has found you!

SONG: Enter in to His great love

ENTER IN to His great love,

Kneel before His throne;

For His blood has washed away your sin,

So, enter in and worship Him.

 

1John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!”

What is our response? The next song reminds us to be so thankful that we just overflow in praise and worship, along with all of His creation.

SONG: Far and near

 

Far and near hear the call,

Worship Him, Lord of all;

Families of nations come,

Celebrate what God has done.

 

Deep and wide is the love

Heaven sent from above;

God’s own Son for sinners died,

Rose again, He is alive.

 

Say it loud, say it strong,

Tell the world what God has done;

Say it loud, praise His name,

Let the earth rejoice

For the Lord reigns.

 

At His name let praise begin,

Oceans roar, nature sing.

For He comes to judge the earth

In righteousness and in His truth.

 

 

Psalm 117:1 – 2

SONG: Father God

 

FATHER GOD, I WONDER how I managed to exist

Without the knowledge of Your parenthood and Your loving care.

But now I am Your son, I am adopted in Your family,

And I can never be alone,

’Cause Father God, You’re there beside me.

 

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

Forever more.

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

I will sing Your praises,

Forever more.

 

Love will never fail – either now or in eternity. It is at the heart of God’s very nature and is the hallmark of authentic Christian discipleship.

And that is what we are – we are simply free to respond to the love of God with our lives. Let us do that today.

1Corinthians 13: 4 – 8 - Love must be in everything we do and we should do everything in the name of love.

SONG: He came to earth

 

HE CAME TO EARTH, not to be served,

But gave His life to be a ransom for many;

The Son of God, the Son of man,

He shared our pain and bore our sins in His body.

 

King of kings and Lord of lords,

I lift my voice in praise;

Such amazing love, but I do believe

This King has died for me.

 

And so I stand, a broken soul,

To see the pain that I have brought to Jesus;

And yet each heart will be consoled,

To be made new, the joy of all believers.

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 my Lord has done for this believer.

 

Ephesians 3: 14 – 19

How great is God’s love?

“God’s love is so big, almost nobody can explain it”, says Jamie, aged 8. “It’s bigger than 999,999,999 gallons of chocolate milk. No one really knows how big his love is, but all I know is that He loves us no matter what.”

HYMN; Oh, the mercy of God

 

Oh, the mercy of God, the glory of grace,

That You chose to redeem us, to forgive and restore,

And You call us Your children, chosen in Him

To be holy and blameless to the glory of God.

 

To the praise of His glorious grace,

To the praise of His glory and power;

To Him be all glory, honour and praise

Forever and ever and ever, amen.

 

Oh, the richness of grace, the depths of His love,

In Him is redemption, the forgiveness of sin.

You called us as righteous, predestined in Him

For the praise of His glory, included in Christ.

 

Oh, the glory of God expressed in His Son,

His image and likeness revealed to us all;

The plea of the ages completed in Christ,

That we be presented perfected in Him.

 

 

 

Breaking of Bread

You CHOSE to redeem us – to forgive – and to make us your children.

Here we have a righteous, holy God choosing to form an everlasting relationship with fallen mankind – with people who have themselves chosen to reject Him for much of their lives

And yes, whatever our past may have been, he has chosen to redeem us, buy us back, to forgive totally, and to restore us into his family. Others may have rejected us, but God by his grace has accepted us into his family – made us his children

But He did so at a cost – His one and only Son had to pay the purchase price. As Paul writes in

 2Cor 5:21:  God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

 

Let’s just be quiet for a moment – as we each give thanks to the Lord for what He has done for us – as we contemplate once again the suffering Christ went through on the cross, so that we could be set free and become part of his family.

Prayer:

Yes, God we are indeed amazed by your grace, that you could love us just as we are. Thank you that Jesus, the sinless one, was willing to suffer the humiliation of the cross, just because he loved us so much. As we take this bread and share it with our brothers and sisters, acknowledging you have brought us all into your family, we pray that we may once again be filled with wonder and praise to you for your amazing grace towards us. Bless this bread to us, as we share it now in remembrance of Christ’s sacrificial death on that cross, Amen.

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for giving us this wine to remind us that your precious blood was shed on our behalf, to set us free from the bondage of sin. Thank you that the price of our redemption was paid in full, as Jesus himself opened up the way for us to be made your children. Bless us as we share this cup together, as we proclaim the Lord’s death, until he comes.

 

Ken’s Message

What’s Different about a Christian?   Exodus 33.12-17, Joshua 1.1-9

As I met people soon after coming to Crawley many would say to me “You’re not from these parts are you”?  Now why would they say that to me I wonder?  Of course, it is because I speak the Queen’s English!  My broad Bolton accent distinguishes me showing I come from Lancashire.

What’s the main distinguishing feature between a Christian and a non-Christian?  Some would say a Christian goes to church, worships God, reads the Bible and prays, whereas non-Christians don’t do those things.  Others believe a Christian tries to keep the 10 Commandments and lives a good life.  Many do that but they wouldn’t say they are Christians. 

If you were to ask Moses for the difference between a believer in God and an unbeliever, he would say a believer in God (i.e. a Christian) is a person who has God with them.  He says “How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and your people unless you go with us”. (Exodus 33.16) The thing that marks out a believer in God, or a Christian is that God is with them.  That was the difference between the Children of Israel and nations surrounding them. 

It is the same distinction of a Christian in the New Testament.  When the Jewish leaders “saw the courage of Peter and John and realised they were unschooled, ordinary men they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.”                                                                                                                       

The Priority of God’s Presence. 

Paul writing to the Christians at Corinth says “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you’ whom you have received from God? (1 Corinthians 6.19) Paul also describes the condition of a non-Christian.  “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8.9) So the distinction is clear.  The Christian is a person who has God living in them, whereas the non-Christian doesn’t have God at all.  Is it so important?  Yes, it is, as the Bible describes people before they become Christians as those “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2.12).   Man needs reconciliation with God which is only possible through the death of Christ for our sins on the cross.  This must also be accompanied by our repentance of sin and faith in Christ.  Without salvation we have no prospect of spending eternity with God in heaven.  That is why our reconciliation with God and having a right relationship with should be our priority.

The Peace of God's Presence

There are many blessings that come to us from a life with God.  One of them is knowing the peace of God. Adam and Eve were created to walk in fellowship with God.  A life with God isn’t just a good idea but it is the only thing that fulfils man’s purpose and gives meaning and satisfaction in life.  Sadly, through Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God their relationship with God was broken and they became spiritually dead not knowing God.   

That is the natural condition of man.  However, through Christ’s death on the cross we can find rest for our souls.  God says “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest”.  Moses was very discouraged and disheartened at that time.  Whilst he was up Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 Commandments the children of Israel with the help of Aaron committed idolatry by building a golden calf.  God was ready to destroy the nation and begin another one centred through Moses.  However, through Moses’s intercession God changed his mind and punished those who were guilty but sparing Aaron.  Amazing that with such a failure God still chose him to be the high priest. 

How many times has God forgiven our sin, picked us up and used us again in his service?  Moses couldn’t find peace in God’s service, his people or his circumstances.  However, God was able to give him his peace that brought rest despite all the sadness and failure around him.  I remember the circumstances how the hymn “When peace like a river” was written.

Horatio Spafford knew something about life’s unexpected challenges. He was a successful attorney and real estate investor who lost a fortune in the great Chicago fire of 1871. Around the same time, his beloved four-year-old son died of scarlet fever.                 

Thinking a vacation would do his family some good, he sent his wife and four daughters on a ship to England, planning to join them after he finished some pressing business at home. The ship was involved in a terrible collision and sunk. More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s precious daughters. His wife, Anna, survived the tragedy. Upon arriving in England, she sent a telegram to her husband that began: “Saved alone. What shall I do?”  Horatio immediately set sail for England. At one point during his voyage, the captain of the ship, aware of the tragedy that had struck the Spafford family, summoned Horatio to tell him that they were now passing over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred.   

As Horatio thought about his daughters, words of comfort and hope filled his heart and mind. He wrote them down, and they have since become a well-beloved hymn:                                                                                                                                 When peace like a river, attendeth myway, 

When sorrows like sea billows roll—               

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well with my soul.

Perhaps we cannot always say that everything is well in all aspects of our lives. There will always be storms to face, and sometimes there will be tragedies. But with faith in a loving God who is with us we can trust in His help, and can be confident and know his peace.  

God’s peace doesn’t come through financial security or pleasant circumstances but by God’s Presence filling our hearts and mind.  It is something beyond human understanding it’s a supernatural peace.  The three Jews Shadrach, Meshach and Adebnego refused to bow down to the image of gold and the punishment was to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Because Nebuchadnezzar was furious, he ordered the furnace to be made seven times hotter than normal.  What was the response of these three young men?                           

They said “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown are into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand O king.  But even if he does not, we want you to know o king that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” 

They had peace whether God rescued them or not.  It wasn’t a matter of could God rescue them but would God rescue them.  They were happy with whichever God chose.  He wouldn’t be any less God by not rescuing them.  He would still be a God worthy of worship and being served.  In their case God did rescue them. 

However, in Colin’s case with his motor neuron disease it seems God has chosen not to rescue him on earth from his disease.  Yet Colin is bright in his faith with no complaint content to leave it in God’s hand.  He has God’s peace even though he hasn’t been healed.  That’s the peace that passes all understanding which we can also experience as we surrender to His will.   

The Power of God’s Presence                                                                                          God’s promise “I am with you” occurs over 300 hundred times in the Bible.  When God gives a task for any of his people to do it is often accompanied with this promise.  This promise assures us of God’s power to enable us to do what he asks of us.  When God called Moses to bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt he said “I will be with you” (Exodus 3.12) and Moses did what God told him.  God’s promise to Moses “My Presence will go with you” is his promise to us. 

You might say well I’m not like Moses.  But we must remember it wasn’t Moses who did all those wonderful miracles but the God of Moses.  And he is our God too!   Sadly, Moses disobeyed God on one occasion and God wouldn’t allow him to lead the Children of Israel into the Promised Land.  God commanded Joshua, Moses’ assistant to do the task instead.  You can imagine how he felt taking over from the mighty Moses.  He would feel overwhelmed and completely inadequate for the job and wouldn’t want to do it.  What was God’s response? 

Firstly, He reminds Joshua that Moses is dead.  “Moses my servant is dead.” Not very encouraging news but something Joshua needed to hear. Though Moses is dead the work of God is still very much alive and Joshua has an important role in it.   He mustn’t let the past failures and successes hinder what God wants him to do in the future.  God then gives Joshua three amazing promises.

1. He would give him every place where he set his foot.     

2. His territory would extend over a very wide area. 

3. No one would be able to stand up against him all the days of his life. 

Probably Joshua thought I’m not Moses so I could never do those things.  But God gives the answer “As I was with Moses so I will be with you: I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (v5) God then repeats it, “the Lord your God will be with wherever you go.”(v9)  When God says something twice he doubly means it.  The answer to his doubt and disbelief was the Presence of God with him.  God would never leave him or fail him. 

The opposite of never is always.  God would always be with him.  There would never be a time when he would be on his own whatever the circumstances would be.  With all the self-isolation, sickness, separation, distress, sorrow and death during Covid God was always with us and we were never alone.  Wherever we were or wherever we went, God was there with us.  Jesus said the same thing as he commissioned the disciples to go into the world to preach the gospel. 

And he says the same to us as we go out to live and witness for him daily. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20) Our God is the Always God.  He’s always with me, always for me and always sees me. 

The Presence of God is always accompanied by the Power of God.  That is why God gives Joshua the promise of victory over his enemies and not to terrified or discouraged by them.  As God was with Moses giving him victory over the Egyptians and enabling him to set them free from bondage, in the same way Joshua can know victory overcoming the enemies in the land of Canaan. 

Whilst the source of victory is the power of God we must partner with God for the victory.  We must partner with God with faith, “I will give you every place where you set your foot.” (v3) They had to possess what God had given them. 

If someone sends you a birthday gift and some months later asks you did you get their gift, and you reply “Oh yes, I still have it unwrapped on my dressing table”.  Would they be pleased?  No, you need to open the gift and make it your own. 

God has blessed us with so many blessings but they can be experienced only as we go forward in faith possessing and enjoying them.  Of the generation who came out of Egypt there were only two people who entered Canaan and they were Joshua and Caleb.  They were the only two spies of the twelve sent in that had faith to believe they could take the land God had promised them.  Apart from them all the nation couldn’t enter the Promised land because of their unbelief.

It’s not enough to have God’s promises for it is only by faith in them that we can see them fulfilled.   Another area where they needed to partner with God was obedience to God’s word.  “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you.” (v7) God’s word had to impact what they said, thought about and did. (v8)

And the same applies to us.  We see the importance of God’s word in the life of Christ as he overcame the three temptations of the devil in the wilderness by knowing, quoting and obeying God’s word.  If we want to know victory over sin, selfishness, temptation, pride, anger, the old nature and the world, faith in God’s word and obedience to it is essential.                                                    

What is the meaning of this passage for us today?  Many have suggested that the Promised Land is a picture of heaven and the River Jordan speaks of our death going through it to heaven.  There are many hymns that depict this.  “When I tread the verge of Jordan……Land me safe on Canaan’s side.”  However, if Canaan is supposed to be heaven it doesn’t appear a nice place to be with all the fighting, wars, suffering and death.  Canaan is a picture of our present Christian life with it trials, temptations, troubles and enemies.  But the real message is of the victorious Christian life through God’s Presence, Peace and Power.  Of course, there is our participation with faith in His promises, obedience to His Word and surrender to His will.    We need to be strong and courageous as God commands us three times so let’s go forward in boldness.   

Closing Song: Be bold, be strong

 

BE BOLD, BE STRONG,

For the Lord your God is with you.

Be bold, be strong,

For the Lord your God is with you.

I am not afraid,

I am not dismayed,

Because I’m walking in faith and victory,

Come on and walk in faith and victory,

For the Lord your God is with you.

 

 

Notices

Next Sunday will be our Harvest Thanksgiving – food in aid of the Churches for Horley Foodbank, and financial donations to the work of Tearfund.