Week beginning Sunday 1st November

Week Commencing Sunday 1st November 2020

Call to Worship

‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation’ Isaiah 52:7

Opening Hymn

1 All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew.
Me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown,
he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

2 Human pride and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple, fall to dust.
But God's power,
hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

4 Daily doth th' Almighty giver
bounteous gifts on us bestow;
his desire our soul delighteth,
pleasure leads us where we go.
Love doth stand
at his hand;
joy doth wait on his command.

5 Still from earth to God eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ his Son.
Christ doth call
one and all:
ye who follow shall not fall.

Joachim Neander, Robert Bridges

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3LCGh02Vew

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, you declared yourself the way, the truth and the life. Reveal to us your truth, and inspire us with your life, that now and at all times we may find in you the way to the Father. Amen

Reading. Luke 8:4-15

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,

    ‘though seeing, they may not see;
    though hearing, they may not understand.’1

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  

1 Isaiah 6:9.

Hymn

In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified, Be Glorified
In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified Today.

In Your Church, Lord, Be Glorified, Be Glorified
In Your Church, Lord, Be Glorified Today.

(Repeat in entirety)

Bob Kilpatrick

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5bpU3hzMXs

 

We are looking at Jesus’ Parable of the Sower over 2 Sunday mornings. This morning we focus on the importance of truly listening to God’s word and how that is linked to Jesus use of parables. We will also see how this parable particularly reinforces the importance of hearing God’s word, and a look at the first 2 grounds described in the Parable as they describe differing responses to the Gospel.

Sermon. The Parable of the Sower. Part 1

Social scientists have carried out some research about the general lack of ability to listen properly:

Barbara Pine writes ‘Statistics and personal experience suggest the longer couples remain together the less likely they are to listen to one another. Why? It is proven that people predict the ideas of those they frequently hear. Our minds work much faster than our mouths. We speak around 150 words per minute but we think between 600 and 1,200 words in the same period. So an undisciplined ear jumps ahead of a speaker.’ Later Pine writes ‘Much of our so called listening is 90% self- thinking. While others speak, our mind works to decide whether we agree, what we would have done and how this information affects us. We mentally finish for them and practice our response. We are hearing them, but we are listening to ourselves.’

David Augsburger describes how we make a judgment of approval or disapproval before we have heard enough to understand. Apparently close up video tapes of people in conversation show that the face gives an unconscious shock signal when an evaluation is received. He writes ‘A vertical wrinkle appears between the eyes for a split second as the eyebrows pull together in the universal sign of anxiety or pain.’

Our self -thinking and judgmental approach in hearing, prevent proper listening.

It is therefore significant that Jesus issues this challenge in His Parable of the Sower: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

A parable functions as a means of releasing judgement or grace depending on how you listen. If you come to the parable with your mind already made up, you already have a resistant attitude towards Jesus, then it will act as a means of judgment upon you. You will only understand on the story level alone. You hear but do not really understand- as Jesus says in verse 10.

Some have misunderstood verse 10. They think the ‘others’ mentioned in that verse are given parables so that they are denied the possibility of belief on purpose. This is not the case. A comparison with the verse quoted from Isaiah 6:9 and the account of The Parable of the Sower in Matthew’s Gospel (Mt.13:1-23) clearly indicate this is not the case. Rather such people forfeit genuine understanding and opportunity to grow if they remain hard hearted and unreceptive. By their own attitude they bring judgement on themselves.

At the same time the parable acts as a means of grace to attract earnest seekers after Truth. Those who are open receive from God spiritual revelation and so grow in faith and mature in their experience.

Matthew Henry puts it like this: ‘the truth Christ preaches is put into the dark lantern of a parable, which has a bright side toward those who applied it to themselves, but to those who were only willing for a season to play with it, it only gave a flash of light now and then, but sent them away in the dark.’

As we examine this parable we realise that it is a reinforcement of our main point- how do you listen? How do you receive the message? The seed falls on 4 different types of soil; each soil represents the state of receptivity of the listener; how willing they are to receive the message. We look at the first 2 types of soil this morning.

Let’s look more closely at the Parable itself

So what is the seed being sown? Jesus explains, verse 11 that ‘the seed is the word of God.’ Verse 1 sets the context of our passage by stating how ‘Jesus travelled from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.’ The challenge was that people repent and believe this good news. In Jesus God’s kingdom has come, so now you must turn from rebellion against God- going your own way, and put your faith in Christ for salvation. After the resurrection the believers preached the Gospel; that Christ died on the cross for you. An atoning sacrifice. You can therefore be freely forgiven and know life in all its fullness. You can know God as your Father, His spirit within you, enabling you to live for him. Here are the elements of the Gospel. This is the good news.

The question then remains: ‘How do you respond to this Gospel?

  1. Have you a hardened heart towards this message? (5, 12)

“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up.” 

12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”

Perhaps you have already made up your mind? You are not receptive. You will not seek what is true. You seek only what you want. You show a hardness of heart that the seed of the Gospel cannot penetrate.

A preacher called Steve Brown once got into a conversation about the Christian Faith with the sound engineer who’d been recording a radio interview he’d just given. Steve suddenly realised he had to be somewhere else, so he gave the engineer his card, and on the back wrote the names of a couple of Christian books which he thought the man would find helpful. He said, ‘Call me after you’ve read the books, then we’ll talk again.’ The man thanked him, and Steve turned to go.

As he was walking out of the studio, the sound engineer called after him, ‘Hey Reverend! I don’t think I’m going to read these books.’

‘Why not?’ Steve said, ‘You’re asking the right questions.’

‘Yeah, you’re right,’ the man replied. ‘But I don’t want to read them. Because if I read them, I may find out you’re right. And if you’re right, I’ve got to change. But I don’t want to change.’

That’s unbelief. Hardness of heart.

You may if pressed throw out a few questions, ‘what about suffering?’ (See Alpha booklet https://issuu.com/alphausa/docs/why_suffering), or ‘What about other religions?’ (See Alpha booklet https://issuu.com/alphausa/docs/other_religions) or ‘Science conflicts with Christianity?’ (See Prof Stuart Burgess https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKAy1WB6keU), but on closer inspection these questions are merely a smoke screen. You have no intention of seeking. There are wonderful resources (as above) about any question you could ask on the Christian Faith. There are courses like Alpha and Christianity Explored which look at the fundamental aspects of the Faith. These courses have been a great help to many nationally and internationally. They are running on- line at this present time. But if you have a hardened heart you will not read anything or participate in such a course. You will not hear.

Rebellion is sin personified in the devil (Genesis 3:1-13), and is comparable to witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:16-23). So when Jesus states ‘the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts’ (12), he is showing how serious that sin is. It is an inner rebellion where the person has set themselves over God and His will. The devil can therefore easily move them away from belief and salvation.

It is the easiest and laziest way to respond to the Gospel but it carries the greatest long term cost. To remain that way is to bring judgment upon oneself.

  1. Rootless (6, 13)

6”Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture”

13 “Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” 

These are people who appear to have received the good news of the Gospel, but have fallen away after their faith has been tested; when they have faced trouble of some kind. They are rootless in the sense that they are not rooted in the Lord otherwise they would be able to overcome and move forward in his strength.

We all want to escape trouble, suffering, persecution and death. But ‘fair weather’ Christians are not what the Lord is looking for. It’s not about sticking with Christ until something ‘better’ comes up, or until the going gets tough. This is the way of cowardice rather than courage.

King Arthur bound his knights to him by rigid vows. Garibaldi, the nineteenth century Italian patriot, offered his followers hunger, death and Italy’s freedom. Sir Winston Churchill’s stirring speech in the House of Commons on 13th May, 1940 is best remembered for his dramatic words, ‘I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat’

These examples remind us if you believe in your Cause, you will follow it through, you will fight for it even if it means personal cost. That is courage.

If we are rooted in Christ he will help us in our troubles. Through our knowledge of his word and his promises, and through ‘remaining in him’ in prayer (John 15:1-11). He will help us stand even when it is difficult.

Elizabeth and I watched a powerful documentary on Monday evening of this week called ‘Jesus in Athens.’ It described how over a million immigrants had made their way from troubled regions of the world into Europe through the gateway of Greece.

A large number of these immigrants were Muslim. For the first time they encountered Christians in Greece, the documentary focused on Athens in particular. They had heard that Christians were permissive and aggressors, but instead they met servant hearted people- like the Lord Jesus- who shared their church buildings, meals and even their homes with these strangers in need. The documentary describes how a number were converted as they discovered what the Bible really had to say about Christ and the nature of true Christianity. As well as European and American outreach, a number of these Muslim converts to Christianity became full time evangelists and teachers of their own people- to the ever increasing numbers of Muslim immigrants.

This in itself took courage because those who converted to Christianity were persecuted in the refugee camps. Some would stay in the camps determined to be a witness whatever the trouble they faced for doing so. Others who were interviewed spoke of their witness to relatives in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim States through social media only to receive disownment and cries of ‘disgrace’ in return. But some were also drawn to Christ and were converted through their witness.

These new converts from Islam to Christianity were shown building themselves up in frequent Bible Study and prayer together. They were determined to reach Muslims from hard core Islamic states whatever the personal cost.

It was clear from the documentary that the Risen Lord Jesus himself was behind these amazing conversions. Since it is so difficult for Christian missionaries to go into Islamic States and Christian converts from Islam face severe persecution in their homelands (See Update 16/8/20. Also Barnabas Fund and Open Doors websites), it appears this mass immigration of Muslims into Europe has been used by the Lord as the opportunity for many to have the freedom to decide for themselves about Christ. Indeed the documentary describes how The Lord himself appears to some of these immigrants in visions and dreams.

A powerful documentary revealing inspirational examples of new converts to Christianity enduring within the most troubling of circumstances. Rooted in the Lord. (Trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8boBtE4sKoU. Film available on Amazon Prime).

But here the Lord describes those who are rootless ‘They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away’

Were you once a professing Christian?

Maybe you are someone who had a child hood faith and have since given up on it.

You gave up on your Faith when it became inconvenient for you and your life style. That is seed on the rocky places. You know you need to be rooted in Christ and the Scriptures.

Perhaps you are a believer. You have made a stand for Christ; by witness or on a moral stand and you have been repaid with trouble for your integrity. The Lord sees. He has promised ‘all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.’ (Rom.8:28). He knows the good he will bring out of it. The way of hope and life is not to turn from Christ but to press in deeper and ‘take root’ in him. Ultimately we have an eternal hope: ‘earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal’ (Thomas More).

It is good that you received the Gospel at first, but as you reflect back on the trouble that discouraged you from following the Lord, consider your weakness in the matter. Did you study and meditate on the Scriptures for the situation you faced? Did you pray it through with a view to surrendering your own will to the Lord’s will? (Cp. Luke 22:42)

It is not too late to bring that matter to the Lord, to ask His forgiveness for falling away and to ask Him to lead you on- a fresh start in him. John Mark and the Apostle Peter are examples of people who fell away because of trouble but the Lord forgave and reinstated them (John Mark: Acts 15:37-39, Col.4:10, Philemon 24. John Mark went on to author Mark’s Gospel. Apostle Peter: Luke 22:54-61, John 21:15-19).

“Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

………………………………………..

Fellowship News

Joan Milner. Joan experiences some discomfort in her back but is not in pain. Joan is very tired and misses not having her physical strength. Her next phone appointment is 5th February 2021.

 

Jim and Dorothy Kostelyk.  Jim had a fall and fractured a bone in his shoulder. He is home now and receiving extra help. Dorothy has resumed her treatment for cancer.

 

David, Val and Kevin Fenton. David has recovered from his operation, but because he had a cardiac arrest his care home cannot take him back, so he remains in hospital. There are positive signs that a residential home in Crawley may well be the way ahead for him. Val is having her knee investigated. Pray for Kevin as he supports David and Val.

 

Gordon Francis is recovering from having cataracts removed.

Vera Cox is expecting to have cataracts removed on the 28th November.

Pauline Greer had her operation to correct carpal tunnel. Pauline’s thumb and two of her fingers are still numb so pray that she can still use her hand, but Pauline is not in pain.

Dick and Barbara Gibb. Please do continue to pray for them both during this difficult time.

Others in need of prayer are Vi Jordan, Anne Bedford-Groom, Janet Tarrant, Joan Jones, David and Val Clapp, Maureen Phillips, Doris Poole, Cecil Davies, Susie Stewart, Maureen Lima, Judith Simmons, Gerald Challis, Ellen Riecker and Rose Howell.  

Please note morning services at ABC can now be accessed on YouTube

Prayer Diary for November

  1. Our Minister, Rev. David Barnes, his wife and ministry.
  2. The Missionary Prayer Fellowship.
  3. The Presidential Election in the U.S.A.
  4. Our Church Secretary, Wendy Breese, and her continuing work.
  5. Our Treasurer, Dick Gibb, as he looks after the church finances.
  6. Our Deacons, for God-given wisdom at this difficult time.
  7. Church members and friends still being shielded or in lockdown.
  8. Remembrance Sunday: for all still suffering from war wounds.
  9. Church members and friends in hospital or residential homes.
  10. The Torch Fellowship; that it may be able to resume soon.
  11. Armistice Day: for peace Initiatives worldwide.
  12. Tim and Linda Hobson.
  13. Paul and Alison Guinness: Alison awaiting the birth of their baby.
  14. Mary and Martin Barber; busy in their work in Madagascar.
  15. Judy Cook: her work in Thailand and at Hope Home.
  16. Our caretaker Rosalyn, and all who care for our premises.
  17. St.  Margaret’s Church; the Rector, Rev. Mark Standen.
  18. David and Lorna Sivyour as they seek God’s guidance for the Dell Club.
  19. William Armstrong, studying at Bournemouth University.
  20. The church will be a testimony to all living nearby.
  21. Doctors, nurses and all working in hospitals and care homes.
  22. The ABC Singers and our musicians; thank the Lord for them.
  23. The Immanuel Church; the leader Rev. Ben Redding.
  24. Spiritual and numerical growth in the church.
  25. Our Prime Minister and the Government, grappling with Covid-19.
  26. Local Government leaders, also grappling with Covid- 19.
  27. Safety and Security in Angmering.
  28. Peace in Israel and the Middle East.
  29. Leaders of the national churches; to call the nation to prayer.
  30. The Holy Spirit to bring Revival to Angmering and district.

Hymn

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! – who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Stuart Townend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENtL_li4GbE

Blessing

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.

David Barnes 27/10/20