Week Commencing Sunday 12th July

Week Commencing Sunday 12th July 2020

Call to worship

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work among us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3: 20-21)

Hymn

 

Come, let us sing of a wonderful love,
tender and true;

out of the heart of the Father above,

streaming to me and to you:

wonderful love

dwells in the heart of the Father above.

 

Jesus, the Saviour, this gospel to tell,
joyfully came;
came with the helpless and hopeless to dwell,
sharing their sorrow and shame;

seeking the lost,

saving, redeeming at measureless cost.

 

Jesus is seeking the wanderers yet;
Why do they roam?
Love only waits to forgive and forget;
Home! Weary wanderers, home!
Wonderful love
dwells in the heart of the Father above.

 

Come to my heart, O Thou wonderful love,
come and abide,
lifting my heart till it rises above
envy and falsehood and pride:
seeking to be
lowly and humble, a learner of Thee.

 

                                                    Robert Walmsley

 

 

Opening Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer. Amen

 

Reading. John 14: 1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

 

Sermon. ‘Trust in God’

The arrival of the coronavirus turned our lives upside down. The ‘invisible enemy’ caused the best laid individual plans and also public and sporting events to be swept aside. So many lives have been scarred and changed for ever, and the nation faces economic and business uncertainty. This anxious and fearful time has, however, brought out the best in our society with kindness and compassion shining through in different ways and we can be encouraged that here is now some light at the end of the tunnel as the lockdown measures are slowly eased.

At this time of crisis many people will have asked or thought; ‘Why has God allowed this coronavirus outbreak to happen?’ Our church minister, David, explained in his talk ‘God and Viruses’ (please see 29/3 Update) that sin had come into the world, and sickness and disease with it as a result of the Fall. In that weekly issue David wrote: ‘The God of the Bible loves us. Suffering is an alien intrusion into His Creation, the result directly and indirectly of Adam and Eve’s sin. But God permitted this because He wanted to give us free will. Love is not love if it is forced; it can only be love if there is a real choice’.

God’s will for men and women is for us to have good health of body and also of soul. When studying the earthly ministry of Jesus, God’s Son, it is clear that we can take no other view. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in particular, clearly tell us how much of the ministry of Jesus was taken up with healing people who were suffering from various ailments and disabilities. And we fully see a loving God in Jesus. God, who created this beautiful world, created men and women for fellowship with Himself and gave us free wills. He might have filled the world with robot-like creatures who acted like puppets in precise ways to precise conditions. But such creatures would not have been persons who could love and think and make their own choices.

We, fortunately, have been given the ability to love, and power to think and reason. We have to acknowledge, however, that we do get things wrong every so often and, for example, when we break the rules of public health and hygiene we can cause medical problems to arise which, quite possibly, has contributed to the coronavirus outbreak. We can thank God for the ability He has given to medical research scientists to investigate and learn more about how the coronavirus came into being and spreads, establish how the infection affects the human body and find a cure and vaccine. We can be sure that God is helping those scientists to fully understand this new virus. We can trust that our God will definitely want to see a successful outcome in what might be called a rescue plan in the battle to suppress and defeat this aggressive and dangerous virus that has caused such severe health problems around the world.

In fact, God, because of His great love for us, already has His own rescue plan for our souls and for our future lives. Now, this really is good news. The whole essence of the Bible, which is God’s Word of hope to the whole of humanity, is His rescue plan for everyone from the sins committed by us all. It is the life changing message that God wants to have a personal relationship with all people. He wants us to come to know who He is, how He wants us to live our lives and how we can be saved from His judgement because of our sinful nature.

Until Jesus came into the world, people did not fully know what God is really like. They were, in a way, groping in the darkness. But Jesus, the Son, fully knows the Father and, therefore, He has been able to reveal what God is like. So, when Jesus came into the world, He not only opened the door for us to see what God is actually like, but provided us with the introduction to God, which by ourselves we could never have found. Jesus is recorded in John’s Gospel as saying ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one come to the Father except through me’. When we personally accept Jesus into our hearts as our Saviour, He promises to help us through life with His Holy Spirit. He shows us the way and, in effect, takes us by the hand and leads us. He guides, directs and strengthens us along the path of life no matter what confronts us. We have the assurance from Jesus: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me’. Only Jesus, the Son of God, would say with true and moral and divine perfection ‘I am the truth’. He also said ‘I am the life’ and life with Jesus is certainly life worth living because He alone provides the resources for living the life that wins. Jesus went on to say ‘No one comes to the Father except through me’. Only through Him do we have access to God; only Jesus can lead us into the presence of God; only in Jesus do we see what God is like.

The days of groping in the dark or there being any sense of ignorance about God are past because the truth has been revealed. The Apostle Paul wrote about God’s rescue plan. In his letter to the Christians in Galatia he opened with these words: ‘Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age’. God’s plan from the time of Adam and Eve was to rescue us from the power of sin through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, so that we might live righteous lives that please Him. God’s whole purpose for humankind was never an afterthought; it was settled before the foundation of the world by the all-knowing eternal God. People were created and set in this world to serve and glorify God, and He offers salvation to everyone just as He planned to do so long ago.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to bridge the gap between us. He sent His Son to rescue us at a time when humanity was helpless because we could not save ourselves. God’s plan of salvation for the world could not be fully understood until Jesus died on the cross and rose again from the grave. Sin requires God’s forgiveness, and the death of Jesus provides it for us. This is God’s rescue plan for our souls- a rescue plan that includes the whole of humanity. God through Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin and has forgiven all people who believe in Him. Our salvation cannot be earned by any religious or moral efforts, or do- good activities, or any works of service. We need to acknowledge before God that we have sinned and believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and then to allow Him to guide our life. Our salvation can only come when we accept God’s great mercy and love for us.

When we accept the Christian faith, God does not take us out of worldly situations that make us feel uncomfortable or turn us into robots that are impervious to sin. The antidote is to allow God’s Holy Spirit to control us so that there is a change for the better in our thoughts, attitudes and actions. A person’s lifestyle and relationships provide a window into their character. We need to ensure that we are good ambassadors for Jesus and able to distinguish between right and wrong. Our actions must be above reproach. We need to be responsible in all areas of our lives and people should be able to respect and trust us. We have to learn how not to conform to the disorderly and anti- social behaviour of the world around us and this should cause our priorities to change. Only when our minds are completely renewed by the new attitude that God through Jesus can give us are we truly transformed.

God wants us to imitate Jesus in the lives we lead, to be holy in all that we do. Not to follow the attitudes and standards of the world around us or to blend in with the crowd but to display God’s qualities in our lives. Having the ability to discern not only what is right and wrong, but also what is good and bad, developing a true Christian character. Our focus and priorities should be that of Gods’ and He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us the power to overcome sin and live according to His standards. To help us along life’s way, we also have the Bible, the book of life and the inspired Word of God. The Bible should be our standard for both judging what is true and for our source of guidance for how we should live. God has good, pleasing and perfect plans for all Christian people. He wants us to be new people with freshness of thought, alive to glorify him. In fact, we are not saved for our own benefit but to glorify God and to help to build Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice for our sins to make our new lives possible.

Furthermore, if we say that we love God we must trust Him and not rely on life’s treasures and worldly pleasures. We should look for our security for the future in heaven, not on earth. God wants us to have characters like that of Jesus and as we become more and more like Him, we discover our true selves, the people we were created to be. If our character is really like that of Jesus, we can be sure that our behaviour will honour God. At the heart of the Christian life are faith, hope and love. Our relationship with God begins with faith which helps us to realise that all our sins have been forgiven because Jesus has paid the penalty. Hope grows within us as we learn that all that God has in mind for us and this allows us to focus on the future. And we know that there is life beyond the grave and that our life on earth is a preparation for that eternal life in heaven. Love is the action of our Christian lives because God’s love fills us and gives us the ability to live as He intended. The power and understanding to live the Christian life comes from Jesus and this allows us to live according to God’s will and purpose. May our way of life fully reflect the values of Jesus so that we are worthy of Him.

                                                                                                                                               Tony Whyler

Song. Your Love Broke Through      

[Verse 1]
Like a foolish dreamer, trying to build a highway to the sky
All my hopes
Would come tumbling down, and I never knew just why
Until today, when You pulled away the clouds
That hung like curtains on my eyes
Well, I've been blind
All these wasted years and I thought I was so wise
But then You took me by surprise

[Chorus]
Like waking up from the longest dream
How real it seemed
Until Your love broke through
I've been lost in a fantasy
That blinded me
Until Your love broke through

[Verse 2]
All my life I've been searching for that crazy missing part
And with one touch
You just rolled away the stone that held my heart
And now I see that the answer was as easy
As just asking You in
And I am so sure
I could never doubt Your gentle touch again
It's like the power of the wind

Keith Green. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h89-3_kIRDA

 

Prayers

We confess that we have lived superficially. We have pushed to the back of our minds the questions that trouble us. We have not found time to face the emotions that disturb us. We have hidden from life behind habit, activity, and entertainments. We have avoided you, God, even as you came after us.

In our relationships we have given less than our whole selves and we have not received from others what they wished to give us of their selves. We have countered the sharp demands of justice with hardened hearts. We have allowed imagination and sympathy to wither. Routine has been our ally and honesty our dread.

Lord God, we have shut ourselves up. Come after us again, knock once more, that we may open up to meet others, rediscover ourselves, know your love, and live again. Amen.

Prayer for people who are infected with COVID-19 or facing quarantine.

Jesus, during Your ministry on Earth You showed Your power and caring by healing people of all ages and stations of life from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. Be present now to people who need your loving touch because of COVID-19. May they feel your power of healing through the care of doctors and nurses.

Take away the fear, anxiety, and feelings of isolation from people receiving treatment or under quarantine. Give them a sense of purpose in pursuing health and protecting others from exposure to the disease. Protect their families and friends and bring peace to all who love them. 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.—Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Prayer for protection for people at higher risk of developing the disease.

Dear Lord, we lift to you our concern for people who are more likely than others to become severely ill from COVID-19 — the elderly and people with chronic health conditions. Protect them from harm and be their comfort in this time of uncertainty and, for many, preventive isolation from loved ones.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.—1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)

 

Hymn

 

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
 

Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Stuart Townend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzQj7XvKFmA

 

Blessing

 

God the Father keep you in his care, the Lord Jesus Christ be your constant friend, and the Holy Spirit guide you in all you do, now and always. Amen

                                                                                                                                                       David Barnes 7/20