Notes of Meeting Sunday 29th August 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 29th August 2021

 

Worship led by Sue Clarke

I want to start with a few verses from Revelation. This book literally is God making known to us His divine truth. It is sometimes known as the book of life, hope and truth. God the Father is the author, and Jesus Christ is the One who gave the revelation to an angel to give to John “to show His servants things which must shortly take place”.

Rev 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and He will reign for ever”

Rev 12: 10 & 12 “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ”; “therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!”

Jude 1:21 “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life”

Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe”.

Truly we have the greatest reason to be thankful and to worship our God!

 

SONG: How wonderful, how glorious 783

 

How wonderful, how glorious

Is the love of God,

Bringing healing, forgiveness,

Wonderful love.

Let celebration echo through this land;

We bring reconciliation,

We bring hope to every man:

 

We proclaim the kingdom

Of our God is here;

Come and join the heavenly anthem,

Ringing loud and ringing clear:

 

Listen to the music

As His praises fill the air;

With joy and with gladness

Tell the people everywhere:

 

Ephesians 3:12 “In him and through faith in himwe may approach God with freedom and confidence

1Peter 1: 3 – 9

3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4

and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,

5

who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

6

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

7

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith —of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire —may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

8

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,

9

for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

 

SONG: Jesus, we celebrate your victory

 

JESUS, WE CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORY:

Jesus, we revel in Your love.

Jesus, we rejoice, You’ve set us free;

Jesus, Your death has brought us life.

 

It was for freedom that Christ has set us free,

No longer to be subject to a yoke of slavery;

So we’re rejoicing in God’s victory,

Our hearts responding to His love.

 

His Spirit in us releases us from fear,

The way to Him is open, with boldness we draw near;

And in His presence our problems
disappear,

Our hearts responding to His love.

 

Hebrews 9: 14 – 15

14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

15

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance —now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

2Corinthians 5:15 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again”.

And these words from another song:

“I thank you for the cross where all my shame was laid, broken by Your power, banished by the grave. You gave yourself for me, a sinner for a King. Offering Your death and suffering my sin.

And I will give my life to You, Lord. For with grace, you came to pay the ransom for my soul. And I will live my life for You Lord. You brought me back from death into Your mercy on the cross.”

This is what we are called to do – to live for Christ, to praise Him for all He is to each of us, and to daily offer our lives, through the power of His spirit in us, to be the people we are called to be.

Why did Jesus come to earth? Because H loved us so much that He wants each of us to be saved.

 

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.

 

That sacrifice is the ultimate gift of love any of us scan ever know. Our last song takes us to the cross, as we come to the breaking of bread.

 

SONG: When I survey 1606

 

WHEN I SURVEY the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

 

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down;

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

 

Oh, the wonderful cross,

Oh, the wonderful cross

Bids me come and die and find

That I may truly live.

Oh, the wonderful cross,

Oh, the wonderful cross,

All who gather here by grace

Draw near and bless Your name.

 

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small.

Love so amazing, so divine

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

 

Breaking of Bread

“When I survey the wondrous cross” – how can a cross ever be describe4d as “wondrous”? Surely it’s a place to be forgotten, a place of ignominy, a place of suffering for those being crucified and for their loved ones looking on. For Christians, however, it’s a place to be remembered – a truly wonderful place that’s still remembered over 2000 years on, because there, outside the walls of Jerusalem, in a truly barren and desolate place, Jesus, the Prince of Glory, gave up his life for the sake of you and me. The cross, the empty cross, symbolic of the fact that Jesus died and later rose again, what does it mean to you today? What are the first one-word thoughts that come into your mind?

Maybe  - Love – sacrifice – suffering – blood – pain – thankyou -

The crown of thorns on his head, the rough nails driven through his hands, his feet tied to the upright, his arms outstretched on the cross-piece, the suffering that Jesus, the Son of God went through – why did he do it? Just because he loved us. Amazing, quite amazing.

Our song spoke about our response – what can we possibly do to say our “thank yous” to the Lord? Clearly words aren’t enough – he wants more – he wants above all for  us to dedicate our lives to serving and honouring him.

Today, we are here to remember and say thank you once again – honouring his memory and the instructions he gave us, as we share together the bread and wine.

 

Brian’s Talk

Zacchaeus - Luke 19: 1 – 10

If someone interrupts you when you are getting on with an important task, how do you feel, and what do you do? You no doubt are frustrated at losing momentum on the task in hand – whether it’s painting a door, writing a letter or email on an important subject, or just trying to get your mind around some newly-arrived problem. You probably ask the person to go away and come back at a more convenient time. If the phone rings, you probably ignore it altogether.

I want to begin by reading one of the most well-known passages in Luke’s gospel. Jesus was on a most important mission, as he returned for the last time from his beloved Galilee heading for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover there. It’s the account of Jesus’ encounter with Zaccheus – yes, that little man who climbed up a tree. You may well be able to recite the whole passage – only 10 verses, but I will read it right through all the same.

READ 19: 1 – 10

1

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

2

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

3

He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

4

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today."

6

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7

All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."

8

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."

9

Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

10

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost."

 

As I said, Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He wouldn’t have been alone – he probably had most of his 12 disciples with him, plus the women who did so much to look after him on his many journeys, plus probably a number of other on-lookers who were interested to see what he would do next. So it was quite a band of people, walking through the town of Jericho. I guess too that they will have stopped off for refreshments at their favourite eateries on the way.

Their arrival would have caused quite a stir amongst the village population. And you can imagine the locals getting quite excited that this man Jesus, who they had heard about, was now passing through their village. So many would have turned out to see what was happening, hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

What would he do – would he be healing some of the sick? Would he start speaking in his gracious way to them about God? He was such a good teacher, so they would cling on to anything he said.

So the crowds gathered, some to welcome him, some most likely just out of interest to see him pass by, and some maybe to listen to anything he might have to say.

Our reading focused on just one man in that crowd. Not just any man, but a man who, in spite of his apparent success in life, had very few friends. He was Jewish by birth, and his well-paid role was to collect taxes of all kinds from the people. The nature of his work made him aggressive, and the more aggressive he was, the more money he would make for Rome and for himself. He is described as a chief tax collector, so clearly he had been successful in his chosen career, and was reaping the financial benefits that came with it.  

But Zacchaeus was I think an unhappy man. He was looked upon by the spiritual leaders of the day as an outcast, lumped together in their minds with others they called “sinners” – adulterers, thieves and robbers, wife-beaters to name but a few. He was inevitably seen as an agent of the much-hated Romans who had occupied the land of Israel for the past 90 years. Whilst the people didn’t mind paying the Temple taxes to support their own, they violently objected to paying out excessive amounts to support the Roman armies and their massive road-building programme in Europe. So inevitably they looked upon Zacchaeus as a traitor to their nation, so people would go out of their way to ensure they didn’t come too near to him unnecessarily.

Besides being unpopular because of his occupation, Zacchaeus also felt disadvantaged because he was so short of stature. He had no doubt been subjected to many jokes about this at school, and his lack of height may have precluded him from certain jobs in life. Like the other folk in Jericho, he wanted to see this man Jesus as he passed by. He didn’t want to be conspicuous by standing on a chair, so he chose the option of climbing up a suitably-located sycamore-fig tree, right on the route Jesus was taking through the city. This type of tree could have been as much as 30 feet high, with a short trunk and spreading branches, well able to support grown men. There, he was out of the way of others, but would have a brilliant panoramic view of the people passing by.

After waiting awhile, Jesus and his entourage reach the little square with the sycamore tree in the corner – and Jesus stops. Despite the urgency of his journey, and the focus he had on making it to Jerusalem, Jesus found the time to stop for just one man. This was characteristic of Jesus – he always made time to deal with individual people with particular needs. Think for instance of Jairus’s daughter, and of the woman with the issue of blood whose experiences are recorded in the gospels. We don’t know who else he spoke to in Jericho that day – he may well have spent many hours talking to various people. But Luke just picked out this one encounter that Jesus had with this chief tax collector.

So Jesus stops near this tree – looks up  - and calls out “Zacchaeus”

This must have come as quite a shock to Zacchaeus – how did Jesus know he was there in the first place – he thought he was well hidden from view amongst the branches of the tree. And how on earth did Jesus know his name? And now there was the embarrassment of all the other people now knowing that he, the despised tax collector, was hiding up a tree! Any pride he had would have taken a battering.

Jesus then called him down – out of his hiding place. Imagine what was going through his head now – “What’s he going to say? Will he berate me for my wrong doings? What will people think of me now?”

So Zacchaeus comes down from the tree, probably rather sheepishly, and comes face to face with Jesus. He had wanted to see who Jesus was; now in a most unexpected way he had the opportunity to find out. Because not only did Jesus call him down, but he actually invited himself into his home.

Zacchaeus was thrilled that this Jesus he had just hoped to see was willing to be a guest at his house of all places – after all, most respectable Jews would not have been willing to be seen going anywhere near his home. But Jesus was different – he was willing, as he always had been, to associate himself with social outcasts of every kind, to accept them as they were, and to meet their specific needs.

Zacchaeus main problem was one of conscience – he had become rich largely by illegal means – by cheating and defrauding his fellow Jews in order to line his own pockets. Many of the poor had become even worse off as a result of his greed. I guess as a well-educated person he would have known this was all against the laws which God had given to his people, and this knowledge may well have troubled him. I guess he knew that something in his life needed to change, and maybe Jesus would be able to help him

So now, having met with Jesus, having been accepted by him, there is an instant change in his outlook on life. Jesus so impacted him, meeting with Jesus was for him a life-changing experience. He immediately declares that he will give half his possessions away to the poor, and also repay four times over what he has illegally gained from rich and poor alike. It was going to cost him – repaying  four times what he had obtained by fraud was no small gesture. Not only that, but his whole way of life would now be different, he would see people differently, and treat them with more consideration. What a turn-around – truly now a new man – and all as a result of that one meeting with Jesus. 

For him, it was a bit like what happens when say an artist moves in to a new house – he or she will detest whatever colours the rooms are, and will set about re-decorating the house to their own taste. That’s really what Jesus does with our lives, once we have truly encountered him. Maybe not everything needs changing immediately, but when Jesus comes into our lives some things do need to be dealt with immediately, although it may take him a lifetime to completely sort out our lives. As the Holy Spirit gets more control, as he fills us more and more, so we become more like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.

Jesus described him as now having become “ a son of Abraham”, not just because  he was born a Jew, but because he now walked in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith. He had the advantage of being born a Jew, but he still needed that encounter with Jesus to change his life.

Zacchaeus had truly experienced a change of heart as a result of meeting Jesus. He was proof of the truth of some wonderful promises we read earlier in God’s word about seeking and finding him. God’s promise to his people when he gave them the Law was that “if you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look with all your heart and with all your soul”. Sadly so many people have given up on God without genuinely seeking after him. Maybe a few incidents in their lives have not gone the way they had hoped, so they either blame God or else decide he’s not there after all – so they sadly give up on him without really seeking after him with any real energy, Maybe you are still seeking after God – well, keep on looking, and claim his promise, and you will find him for yourself – and that’s guaranteed because God has said it!

A few chapters earlier in Luke’s gospel, he records two parables which Jesus told about the lost – firstly a lost sheep, then a lost coin. Jesus was responding to the Pharisees and teachers of the law who were complaining that he was associating with sinful people.

He speaks firstly about a man with 100 sheep tucked away safely, probably in their sheepfold, when he discovers that one has managed somehow to escape. So he leaves the 99, and goes off in search of the one lost sheep. He keeps on searching, until at last he finds it. He then takes the sheep back home on his shoulders, and celebrates with his friends and neighbours, The purpose Jesus had for telling this story was to show the joy there is in heaven when one lost person repents and turns to God. There was clearly great joy in heaven too when Zacchaeus repented of his sin in response to Jesus.

Jesus finishes up by declaring once again his purpose “The son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”. Throughout his ministry Jesus had associated himself with the common people, with the poor, with prostitutes, with adulterers, with those that the Pharisees would avoid at all costs. No-one was too bad for Jesus to seek them out.  The “lost” were his target – people who needed a helping hand to get them back on their feet – Jesus made time for them all.

What about us? Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2 that, as Gentiles by birth, we are “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel, without hope and without God in the world.” But he doesn’t stop there – that’s just the bad news – he goes to give us some good news: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.”

So after all there is hope for everyone – because the death of Jesus opened up the way for us all to come back into a right relationship with God.

Zacchaeus was one of the lost that Jesus came to find and to save. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was seeking out those who would respond to him and his message. His heart was for the lost.

Paul speaks in his letters about putting off our old nature, and “putting on a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Zacchaeus began the right way, by responding to Jesus with real costly action. True faith is costly – if we are to truly follow the commands of Jesus and work out our faith day by day in the world. James reminds us very clearly that what we do does matter – that faith without works is dead. It’s all very well to claim to have faith in God, but unless that faith is seen to be worked out in our lives, it really is of no value.

What do people outside the church see in our lives – in what we say, in what we do, how we treat others? Do they see Jesus in us? They will, if we have truly invited Jesus into our lives.

Have we really experienced that change of heart which so altered Zacchaeus’ life? There’s an old chorus we used to sing “Into my heart, into my heart, come into my heart Lord Jesus. Come in today, come into stay, Come into my heart Lord Jesus.” When he comes in, he makes a difference, and others will notice it.

Maybe for someone listening today Jesus is still standing there, waiting for that response.

In Rev 3:20, Jesus says “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.”

Jesus knocks at the door of our heart because he wants to save us and have true fellowship with us. He is patient and persistent and goes on knocking. “Are you there, are you listening?” The decision is ours whether to accept or reject his voice. Whether to accept his kind offer of salvation, and the life-changing experience of knowing Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

Have you heard the call of Jesus and responded as Zacchaeus did?

If so, you can truthfully echo the words of our last song .

 

SONG: 1607

WHEN I WAS LOST, You came and rescued me;

Reached down into the pit and lifted me.

O Lord, such love,

I was as far from You as I could be.

You know all the things I've ever done,

But Jesus’ blood has cancelled every one.

O Lord, such grace

To qualify me as Your own.

 

There is a new song in my mouth,

There is a deep cry in my heart,

A hymn of praise to Almighty God - hallelujah!

And now I stand firm on this Rock,

My life is hidden now with Christ in God.

The old has gone and the new has come - hallelujah!

Your love has lifted me.

 

Now I have come into Your family,

For the Son of God has died for me.

O Lord, such peace,

I am as loved by You as I could be.

In the full assurance of Your love,

Now with every confidence we come.

O Lord, such joy

To know that You delight in us.

 

Many are the wonders You have done,

And many are the things that You have planned.

How beautiful the grace that gives to us

All that we don't deserve,

All that we cannot earn,

But is a gift of love.

 

 

Notices

  1. From next Sunday, our services will start at 10.15am – as pre-Covid. This will allow us more time for worship and for the Prayer time.
  2. Our speaker next week will be Ken Davis, from Crawley Community Church.