Notes Of Meeting Sunday 7th March 2021

Lee Street Church

Notes of Meeting 7th March 2021

Worship led by Ken Cowell

Psalm 40. 1-3    1.  I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.                               2.  He lifted me out the slimy pit, out of the mud and the mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  3. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.     

Are you a patient person?  Or are you someone who likes things to happen fast with little delay?  David was in a real crisis describing his situation like being in a slimy, muddy and miry pit.  In the Psalm it doesn’t say what the crisis is, but I believe there’s a hint what it could be.  He cried to God but he didn’t get a quick answer.  He says “I waited patiently”.  The meaning of the word patiently here is, I waited and waited and waited.  In other words it took a long to get what he asked for.  I can only think of one thing that David waited a long time for and that was to become the King of Israel.  He was anointed by Samuel when he was about 18-20, but he didn’t become King until he was 30.  Things happened between that time when it looked he would never become King because King Saul tried to kill him many times.  But David waited patiently until God’s time.  Maybe you’ve been praying for something a long time and there’s been no answer yet.  May we like David be persistent and as Jesus said “always pray and not give up”.

SONG: 2034   Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

STRENGTH WILL RISE as we wait upon the Lord.
We will wait upon the Lord,
We will wait upon the Lord.
(Repeat)

Our God, You reign forever;
Our hope, our strong deliverer.

You are the everlasting God,
The everlasting God.
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary.
You’re the defender of the weak,
You comfort those in need.
You lift us up on wings like eagles.

Brenton Brown & Ken Riley Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music


How did the Lord answer David’s prayer?  He describes it as the Lord lifting him out of a slimy, muddy and miry pit.  It graphically describes our condition before we were saved.  The pit was slimy and slippery so we couldn’t get out by ourselves but needed a rescuer. It was dirty and muddy and we too were deeply stained with our sin.  Our situation was desperate being unable to save ourselves.  We were defiled in our sin needing cleansing.  We were in danger with no hope of deliverance.  All seemed lost but then our rescuer came to where we were and lifted us out and saved us.  Our next song uses this Psalm as a song of thanksgiving and praise to Jesus

SONG: 1607   When I was lost, you came and rescued me

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.

 

Kate & Miles Simmonds

Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music

 

When we are saved it involves two parts.  What we are saved from.  David was saved from being a pit of despair where he slipped further down where there was no hope of salvation.  That was our condition before Christ saved us.  David was lifted to a place where his feet were placed on a rock, so he was safe and secure to stand and not slip like he was on the slime.   For us too, the foundation and rock of our salvation is none other than Jesus Christ.    With our trust in his redemptive work on the cross and his resurrection we know our salvation is secure for all eternity.  Let’s sing about that with our next two songs.

 

SONG: My hope is built on nothing less 

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus' Name

Christ alone

Cornerstone
Weak made strong
In the Saviour's love
Through the storm
He is Lord
Lord of all

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

 

SONG: 1324   I know He rescued my soul

I KNOW HE RESCUED MY SOUL,

His blood has covered my sin,

I believe, I believe.

My shame He's taken away,

My pain is healed in His name,

I believe, I believe.

I'll raise a banner;

My Lord has conquered the grave.

 

My Redeemer lives, my Redeemer lives;

My Redeemer lives, my Redeemer lives.

 

You lift my burden, I'll rise with You:

I'm dancing on this mountain-top

To see Your kingdom come.

 

Reuben Morgan

Copyright © 1998 Reuben Morgan/Hillsong Publishing/Kingsway Music

 

Psalm 40.4-8 4 Blessed is the man who makes the Lord is trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. 5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no-one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. 6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. 7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come – it is written in the scroll. 8 I desire to do your will O my God; your law is written in my heart.” 

David affirms his trust in God alone rejecting all false gods.  He also realises that what God desires is not empty religious rituals but surrender to him with obedience to his will.  Let’s declare in these last two songs our trust in Christ alone and our commitment of surrender to do his will.

SONG: 830    I, the Lord of sea and sky

I, the Lord of sea and sky,

I have heard My people cry;

All who dwell in dark and sin

My hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night,

I will make their darkness bright.

I will speak My word to them.

Whom shall I send?

 

Here I am, Lord.

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night.

I will go, Lord,

If You lead me;

I will hold Your people in my heart.

 

I, the Lord of snow and rain,

I have borne my people’s pain;

I have wept for love of them –

They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,

Give them hearts for love alone;

I will speak My word to them.

Whom shall I send?

I, the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame,

I will set a feast for them –

My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide

Till their hearts are satisfied;

I will give My life to them.

Whom shall I send?

 

Daniel L. Schutte.

Copyright © 1991 Daniel L. Schutte and

                New Dawn Music.

 

Brian’s Message

Ken concluded his talk last week by challenging us all, when he said “Are you ready for growth this year in becoming more like Jesus? By the power of the Holy Spirit, surrendering of ourselves to Jesus and seeking to grow through the trials we face”. And it’s this subject of becoming more like Jesus that I want to pursue a little more this morning.

The end of a church year and the beginning of a new one is as good an excuse as ever for us to do some self-appraisal. If we are still in employment, the norm is for us to be appraised each year for our performance – how well did we perform the tasks expected of us, did we turn up on time, how many new clients did we sign up for the business, what sort of customer satisfaction ratings did we receive for our efforts? I wonder, how have we progressed in the past church year in becoming “more like Jesus”? Have we in fact progressed at all, or are we just standing still, waiting for the pandemic to go away, so we can get our normal lives back?

When Jesus was teaching and training his disciples, preparing them for the time when he would no longer be physically there with them, he made it very clear to them just what he expected of them. One subject he spoke of was the need for them to be “bearing fruit”, and each of the four gospels record some of his teaching about the fruit which He expected in the lives of his followers.

Read Matthew 7:15 – 20

15

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

16

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

17

Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

18

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

19

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

20

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

And in John 15 Jesus says to his disciples “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last”.

Yes, and I believe He still expects that of his followers, like you and me, today.

Jesus gives this teaching about fruitfulness in the context of a warning specifically about false prophets. The people of Jesus day would have been well accustomed to men who claimed to be bringing a message from God, but in fact were often only telling people what they wanted to hear and were making a good living out of doing just that. We need to be aware that false teachers still exist today, often motivated by their desire for money, fame or power. We need to beware of seemingly very eloquent, powerful and persuasive orators – we need to look more deeply at what they are proclaiming – is it perhaps themselves they are seeking to glorify, or are they truly giving the glory to Jesus? Is Jesus really at the centre of their preaching? And what sort of lives are they leading – is what they preach reflected in their day-to-day lives? Yes, we need to beware of false prophets, especially in a generation where it is so easy to communicate with millions of people over the internet or social media, and where it is sometimes hard for us to differentiate the real from the fake.

Jesus goes on to give them the acid test as to who to believe, when he talks about the fruit that is produced. Is the fruit good or bad? The quality of the fruit depends upon the state of the tree or bush it comes from.

The prime purpose of a tree is to produce fruit – a large oak tree may be a great provider of shade on a really hot summer’s day, but its main purpose is to produce fruit – acorns – which, besides providing food for many wandering creatures, also ensure that the species doesn’t die out. You don’t need many acorns to get buried in order to have a field full of new oak trees. The most useful trees to us are of course what we call fruit trees, producing a bountiful array of luscious fruits for us to enjoy, with cream of course! I guess we’ve all got our favourites – mine are red currants – my father had some ten bushes of these in our garden in Coulsdon, and I well remember the work we all put in to look after these, and some 40 apple trees in our orchard. The reward was, most years, a good crop of tasty home-grown fruit. Happy memories!

Some years however a particular tree may not produce any fruit at all – we might look at it, and if it’s taking up precious space in our back garden we might well decide it has had its time, so we cut it down.

In the passage we read just now, and in passages in the other gospels, Jesus made it abundantly clear that he expected his disciples to produce fruit in their lives. For them, it might have been to gain followers for Jesus, it might have been to perform miracles of healing in the name of Jesus, it might simply have been supporting Jesus in other ways during His ministry, finding food and accommodation for him on their journeys.

The type of fruit will depend solely on what type of tree it is. Only a plum tree will produce plums, and it will never produce pears. The quality and quantity of fruit produced will depend upon a number of other factors -  firstly how well has the tree been looked after in the past years? – has it been properly pruned? -  has it been given the right food to give controlled and fruitful growth? – what has the weather been like since the blossom came out a few months earlier?

I think we can find a number of useful parallels here with the fruit that Jesus expects us to produce in our lives and in our service for him.

I mentioned just now about the type of tree. We are enormously blessed in this land with an immense variety of trees and shrubs of all shapes, sizes and colours. Just take a brief look for instance at Kew Gardens, or more locally at some of the National Trust gardens. They all produce fruit of some kind – not always of the edible variety for humans, sometimes only for our feathered friends and for other creatures both great and small.

In His Church God has put people of all shapes, intellects, colours and sizes, each one capable of producing fruit for Him. Jesus gave us a model in the people he chose at various times to be his followers – a doctor, some tax collectors, a bunch of fishermen, a prostitute, a lawyer, and many  whose backgrounds we don’t know much about at all – yet all chosen by Jesus and given a task to do. And Paul emphasised the diversity of skills needed in the church – 1Cor 12: - addressing the church members at Corinth he wrote:

27

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

28

And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

29

Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

30

Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret?

As a church, Lee Street has been blessed over the years with members with a wide variety of skills – musicians, builders, electricians, computer experts, woodworkers, cooks, painters and decorators,  gardeners, accountants, lawyers, nurses, secretaries, as well as many who have been able to preach and to teach God’s word. (If I’ve omitted your particular profession or skill, I apologise!). Together, when everyone has pulled in the same direction, we have seen much encouragement and blessing.

As we get older, some of the energies we once had seem to have evaporated, and we have to slow down and occupy ourselves in different ways. But each one of us has a part to play – whatever age we’ve reached – we can never retire from our service for the Lord.  God does have a job for you, and He expects you to produce fruit for Him.

One thing that every true believer has in common is the gift of the Holy Spirit. God has by his grace put his precious Holy Spirit inside each one of us – with a number of purposes. He’s there as the Comforter, to be with us and to encourage us in hard times; He’s there to lead us into the truth; He’s there to guide us through all the uncertainties that life throws at us. He’s also the guarantee we have that God has accepted us as his children, and that we will by his grace be with him for eternity.

But his presence with us isn’t just for our benefit – it really is so that we can bear fruit for Jesus.

In Galatians ch 5 Paul speaks about the fruit of the Spirit – what the Holy Spirit can produce in the lives of believers.

2

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (forbearance), kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23

gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Paul is here contrasting the life controlled by the Spirit with one which is controlled by man’s natural sinful nature – immorality, idolatry, hatred, jealousy and envy – to name just a few of the 15 specific things he lists in previous verses. These are of course things which are as evident in the world today as they were 2000 years ago – man’s natural heart without Christ.

And what a contrast it is!

The indwelling Holy Spirit can produce real fruit in our lives, when we allow him to take full control  – when we allow him to literally fill us and reign in our lives – when He has first call on our time and energies. How many times have we sung one the many choruses which invite the Holy Spirit to fill us, to take control of our lives, to truly reign over every aspect of our thinking and our doing? Yet somehow we still prefer and choose to keep some parts of our lives under our control – rather than yielding totally to Christ.

The first thing to note is that Paul speaks here about the fruit of the Spirit – singular - not the plural word fruits. So it’s not a question of picking out one or two characteristics and believing that’s all God wants from us – each one is part of a total package. It’s a bit like my wife’s favourite – a fresh fruit salad (with double cream of course) – a grand mixture of the best in-season fruits, mixed up to enjoy all at once. You can’t just choose to have just the strawberries. So the fruit of the Spirit comprises a number of inter-related characteristics which God expects a spirit-filled person to exhibit in his or her life.

So what does the Holy Spirit want to produce in our lives that may not always be there already?

Paul puts love first in this list of fruit. In his well-known chapter on love - 1Cor 13 – Paul expounds at length the virtues of love above all else. It is of course true that non-believers can and often do show more love and compassion than those who own Christ as Lord. But remember Jesus’ own words to his disciples “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”. What a standard He’s set us  – as we think about Christ’s sacrificial love for us, remember that’s how we are to love one another. This wasn’t just an optional extra, which they could pick or choose according to the weather. It was a command from Jesus to his followers to be obeyed at all times.

It’s very easy come up with all kinds of excuses for not loving someone – but they are only excuses, not reasons. If you are having trouble loving someone, just remember the love which Jesus himself has given to you, and maybe that will cast a new perspective on your problem. In a practical way, love really is putting others first, so self takes its place further down the queue. Sadly, so often its self that seeks to have its way, and prevents us from showing true love for someone else.

If you are feeling a lack of love towards a fellow-believer, try praying for them – maybe God will change you attitude towards them.

The next fruit on Pauls list is Joy – gladness and delight - it’s easy and natural to be joyful when you are winning – but what about the hard times, when everything and everybody seems to be against us? Jesus spoke about the true joy which comes from obeying God’s commands – a freedom which we experience when we are living a life which is honouring to him.

This is closely related to the next fruit Paul lists – Peace. This reminds me of the words of Isaiah (26:3) where he writes: ”You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.” Jesus promised peace in the context of the Holy Spirit in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” In a troubled world, how wonderful to have been gifted with God’s peace to carry us through. Never forget the promises which Jesus has made to us.

Next Paul speaks about Patience (or forbearance) – how to you put up with others – those who wind you up the wrong way, people who seem to live at times on another planet – do you dismiss them as un-helpable? Or do you accept them as they are?

The great thing for us is that God has accepted us “just as we are” – he showed much patience with us until we came to him in repentance.

Then Kindness – or compassion – being always willing to go that extra mile to help someone in need. I guess we are all grateful for those who have given us that extra helping hand at particular times in our lives.

Goodness – very much the same thing as kindness, although you could expand this idea of goodness into other spheres of life. It’s good when people look back on the life of a someone and the consensus is “He was a good man (or woman)” – usually meaning he or she didn’t get into trouble, and led a peaceful sort of life, helping others.

Faithfulness – reliability, being totally trustworthy – it’s what we want in anyone who we either employ, or who helps us in some way. People who will keep their word, and do what they are asked to do. Remember the words of Jesus in what we call the parable of the talents to the servants who had taken care of their master’s goods whilst he was away “Well done you good and faithful servant” -yes, the faithful servant had taken proper diligent care of what his master had entrusted to him, and was given due reward for his service. How faithful am I in using what God has entrusted to me for his glory?

Gentleness – in Philippians Paul says “Let your gentleness be evident to all” – showing a Christ-like consideration for others. A characteristic especially needed in church leaders as they seek to lead the church flock, it implies not going around like the proverbial bull in a china shop, but using our strength in a controlled manner.

Self control – saying No to sinful desires, and saying Yes to the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit. How much better it is to use self-control, rather than having to be told by others to get our lives sorted out.

Remember what we are talking about here – the sort of fruit which the Holy Spirit wants to produce in our lives. These are not characteristics we can just try hard to produce in our lives. There is of course a measure of most of these in many people who know nothing of the Lord. But the key for the Christian is that it’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us that produces the fruit. We must take heed to the call of Jesus in John 15: 4 & 5  “ No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me…. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit”. Our source of strength is the Lord himself.

We began by talking a little about being more like Jesus. That is what bearing fruit is all about – becoming more like Him in all our actions, our speech and our behaviour. I wonder, are we really willing for the Holy Spirit to take full control, for the Lord to mould our lives as he sees fit? Or are we happy as we are, calling for his help when we need it, but otherwise doing things our way?

As Jeremiah reminds us, we are like clay in the potter’s hand. He can take a lump of clay and make something very beautiful out of it, but it has to be remoulded, re-worked on the turntable, in the hands of the potter. My prayer is that we may all truly invite Jesus to have his way in our lives – that the result will be that Jesus is seen in us, as the Holy Spirit bears fruit in our lives, fruit that will last.I want to close with the same song Ken used last week.

 

JESUS, YOU ARE CHANGING ME,

By Your Spirit You’re making me like You.

Jesus, You’re transforming me,

That Your loveliness may be seen in all I do.

You are the potter and I am the clay,

Help me to be willing to let You have Your way.

Jesus, You are changing me,

As I let You reign supreme within my heart.

 

Marilyn Baker. Copyright © 1981 Word’s Spirit of Praise Music/Adm. by CopyCare.

 

That song, and the scriptures we’ve read today, should be a challenge to us all – are we allowing the Holy Spirit to change us, to make us more like Jesus, for Him to be truly reigning in our lives? If so, we will be bearing fruit for Him in our lives day by day.

 

Notices:

  1. Next Sunday, we’ll be sharing in the Breaking of Bread – please be prepared.
  2. Our speaker will be Jim Winter.
  3. A reminder - Responses to the proposal at our AGM last Sunday should be returned by 14th March.