26th April

Week Commencing Sunday 26th April 2020

Dear Friends,

I hope you are keeping well. Today’s devotional materials focus on the evangelistic responsibility we have been given. To bring the good news of the gospel to all people. This command was given by the Lord Jesus to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead and before He ascended into Heaven. His final words spoken on this earth. The words of The Great Commission are also our mandate as His Church:

 

‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28: 18-20).

 

Hymn

 

Facing a task unfinished

That drives us to our knees

A need that, undiminished

Rebukes our slothful ease

We, who rejoice to know Thee

Renew before Thy throne

The solemn pledge we owe Thee

To go and make Thee known

 

Where other lords beside Thee

Hold their unhindered sway

Where forces that defied Thee

Defy Thee still today

With none to heed their crying

For life, and love, and light

Unnumbered souls are dying

And pass into the night

 

CHORUS

We go to all the world

With kingdom hope unfurled

No other name has power to save

But Jesus Christ The Lord

 

We bear the torch that flaming

Fell from the hands of those

Who gave their lives proclaiming

That Jesus died and rose

Ours is the same commission

The same glad message ours

Fired by the same ambition

To Thee we yield our powers

 

CHORUS

 

 

O Father who sustained them

O Spirit who inspired

Saviour, whose love constrained them

To toil with zeal untired

From cowardice defend us

From lethargy awake!

Forth on Thine errands send us

To labour for Thy sake

 

CHORUS

 

 

 

LAST CHORUS

We go to all the world

His kingdom hope unfurled

No other name has power to save

But Jesus Christ The Lord

 

Composer: Samuel Wesley, 1864. Author: Frank Houghton, c. 1930

(Updated version Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Reading. John 21:15-19

 

Jesus has appeared to His disciples for the third time since He was raised from the dead. He has prepared breakfast for them and eaten with them.

In our passage Jesus speaks to Simon Peter. In so doing the Lord makes it clear to all that Peter has been forgiven and reinstated to ministry.

Jesus asks Him ‘Do you truly love me more than these?’ (v15). The question probably means ‘Do you love me, as you claimed, more than these other disciples love me?’- Peter had boasted of his love for Christ and even contrasted it with that of the other disciples: ‘even if all fall away on account of you, I never will’ (Matthew 26:33). But it was Peter who publicly denied the Lord.

Peter’s answer here reveals a new humility. He says ‘Yes Lord…you know that I love you.’ We should notice that Peter is not comparing himself to others as he did previously. He appeals to the Lord’s knowledge of him. He is saying in effect ‘despite my failure, you know that I love you’. Jesus accepts Peter’s answer and commissions him by saying ‘feed my lambs’

Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Why? Well Peter has disowned the Lord 3 times, so Jesus requires this confession 3 times. Each time there is no sign of self-righteousness in Peter’s response. Each time the Lord confirms publicly that Peter has been given the ministry of feeding the Lord’s lambs or sheep.

This episode essentially reminds us we have a Gospel of forgiveness to proclaim. Jesus not only has the authority to forgive sins; He is the Son of God, but He is also willing to forgive sins. He has come to call sinners. Even his closest follower is reliant on Jesus grace and forgiveness. And so it is with each of us. We may have failed the Lord, but if we confess our sin to Christ He will give us hope and a future.

The greatest need of anyone on this planet is assurance of sins forgiven. To accept in the first place that one has sinned, to know that past failings, actions of pride, greed, immorality are cleansed and forgiven. And then to be able to forgive others their sins against us. Only the church with the gospel of Christ can meet this need. The missionary church has a gospel of forgiveness to proclaim.

 

Prayer of Confession

 

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our fellow men, in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, and through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who died for us, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen

 

(From ‘Church Family Worship’. Editor Michael Perry)

 

Prayer of Praise and thanksgiving

 

For drawing me to yourself, I praise you O God,

For your tender, life-changing love, I worship you.

For the power of your blood to change my sin from scarlet

to snow-white I adore you,

Because the only reason for this transformation

Is that you loved me enough to die for me.

I feel drops of blood falling

From your beloved wounds

On to my hands, my head, my heart,

Intermingling with my blood,

Making me clean.

For the wonder of this powerful detergent

I give you humble and heartfelt thanks.

 

(From ‘Embracing God’s World’ Joyce Huggett)

 

Prayers about the coronavirus. Please see last week’s update for a detailed set of prayers about this. Use some of them today. Essentially pray that we will be delivered from this pandemic, at the same time also pray that God will be glorified through all that happens. Remember ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our consciences, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to a deaf world’ (C S Lewis). There will be a spiritual harvest resulting from what is going on. We must pray for it and also pray that we will be ready.

 

I asked Steve Lyes if he could contribute a message for one of the weekly updates. I was delighted to see the evangelistic emphasis in what he had written, and so am pleased to include it here for your edification:

 

Sermon (Steve Lyes)

 

Recently I was listening again to a CD entitled My Hope which is a compilation of songs

dedicated to the late Billy Graham and his ministry. The words of the first track entitled ‘We Believe’ struck me as relevant to our current situation. Below are the lyrics from the opening verses for you to consider:

 

In this time of desperation,

When all we know is doubt and fear,

There is only one foundation,

We believe, we believe,

In this broken generation,

When all is dark, You help us see,

There is only one salvation,

We believe, we believe,

 

We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He's given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He's coming back again,

We believe,

 

So, let our faith be more than anthems,

Greater than the songs we sing, And in our weakness and temptations

We believe, we believe.

 

(The Newsboys singing ‘We Believe’ can be found here https://youtu.be/T5CVN-dpvbQ )

 

During our ‘isolation’, if you haven’t already, I thought it might be helpful to remind and encourage ourselves with some of the foundations of our Christian faith as mentioned in the words above. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about end times in Matthew 24 He reminded them the ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’

In the following I’ve added some Scriptures that highlight those core statements of our faith mentioned above, statements of what we believe as born again followers of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

 

We believe in God the Father

‘For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we

live.’ 1Cor. 8:6

 

We believe in Jesus Christ

‘That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9

 

We believe in the Holy Spirit

‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the

Holy Spirit you may abound in hope,” Romans 15:13.

 

We believe in the crucifixion

‘There they crucified Him, and with two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between.’ John 19:18

 

We believe that He conquered death

‘But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.’

1 Cor. 15:57

 

We believe in the resurrection

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.

1 Peter 1:3

 

And He’s coming back again

‘Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ John 14:1-3

 

There may be no opportunity for the likes of Franklin Graham’s crusades at the moment, but the words of Jesus to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ remain before us, especially for all the family and friends that are on our hearts and in our prayers.

 

We can pray for the Holy Spirit to give us opportunities to share our faith and what we believe, and if you are about to wilt under the enormity of the task – take heart. Jesus said, ‘Surely I will be with you until the very end of the age.’ This promise of His presence is not a reward offered to those who obey, but rather the assurance that those He commanded to ‘go’ WILL be able to obey, because He is with us, and will enable us by His Holy Spirit. If you believe this, it takes the pressure off your efforts in the flesh, and enables you to trust in His power to work through you.

 

I believe the coming days will present opportunities that we have not seen in our lifetimes to share the gospel. Many people’s foundations will have been shaken to the core by man’s inability to cope in the current crisis, and we can be the channel for Christ to lead them to the one true foundation, Christ our cornerstone. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.’ 1 Cor. 3:11

 

We will have opportunities to share what ‘we believe’ and ‘who we know’ and I’m sure I don’t have to remind anyone that our personal testimony about how we came to faith is our most powerful evangelistic tool, even if we can’t answer all the other questions that may arise from an enquirer.

 

At the end of the My Hope CD there is a small recording of the late Billy Graham reciting his favourite bible verse taught to him by his mother as a small boy:

 

‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16

 

Let’s ask God to give us ‘Holy Spirit appointments’ with lost souls to share what we believe in the days ahead.