Angmering Baptist Church

Week commencing 5.2.2023

Devotional Materials. Week Commencing Sunday 5th February 2023

Call to Worship

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepare in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

God is a worker. The Bible describes Creation as the work of God. Six days He worked. On the seventh He rested from all His work. He pronounced His creation ’very good’. The Creation before The Fall was ‘very good’

Our opening hymn is traditionally a harvest hymn. But this hymn reminds us that though we labour and work, we are not masters of this world. God is the only maker of Creation. Our calling is to be good stewards of all He has provided…and thankful, for we have nothing without Him.

Opening Hymn

“We plough the fields and scatter” MP 732 (Keyboards)

Matthias Claudius

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, we worship and praise you again for all your abundant provision. How wonderful is your love for us. Not only for the gift of life- for fashioning and creating us and every created gift- ‘our life, our health, our food’- but for all the spiritual provision You have given us in Christ. For redeeming us by the precious blood of your dear Son and your sanctifying of our lives through the work of the Holy Spirit.

This morning we consider your call to love one another. Help us not to harbour evil thoughts, surmising and judgments of others, but to grow in love, forgiveness and in the encouragement of one another.

By your Holy Spirit, Father give us endurance and cheerfulness as we face our daily tasks. Amen.


“Who paints the skies into glorious day?” MP 1128 (Keyboards)

Stuart Townsend


“Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord” MP 1222 (Keyboards)

Brenton Brown and Ken Riley


“I have heard so many songs” MP 1063 (Guitar)

Matt Redman

Prayers I will begin with prayers that first of all focus on work. If you are retired you can adapt these prayers to your own circumstances:

Father, I share my life with many people but few are as close as those who work with me. I praise you for the support they give me, and for the responsibilities we share.

Lord we pray for all manner of men and women, boys and girls in their working lives:

Give courage and cheerfulness to those who work on assembly lines, in supermarkets, and in routine jobs. Give patience and wisdom to those who deal with people: to social workers, teachers, police, nurses and ambulance drivers. Give skill to doctors and surgeons, scientist and researchers. Give integrity and inspiration to skilled workers and creative artists. Give wisdom to all leaders and to judges, magistrates and those who make laws. Give patience and love to those who work in the home. Give motive and inclination to learn to those who study at school, college or university. Let us never despise the work of others but help us to recognize that we are all needed in order to supply the needs of all.

We pray for all who work within the home, caring for children, for the sick and the elderly. Give them special refreshment and the patience and cheerfulness which they need to do their work without grudging or resentment.

Lord, you say ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest” So we lift to you those who are weary and burdened through sickness. Let them know rest and peace in you. Be pleased to restore them to good health. We entrust each into your hands.

We realise your invitation comes to all of us who are weary and heavy burdened. So we come to you now (Time of silence where we yield our concerns/burdens to the Lord)



You said so gently,

So persistently

‘Give me your weariness

And I’ll give you my rest.’

I did- finally.

You did- immediately.

Then Lord, I marvelled

That I had waited so long. (Ruth Harms Calkin)





“What a friend we have in Jesus” MP 746 (Keyboards)

Joseph Scriven

Reading. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.

Sermon. “Love At Work”.

Tozer wrote: “I am determined that I am going to love everybody, even if it kills me! I have set my heart on it. I am going to do it!”

Our passage today speaks of growth in love. It begins with Paul’s recognition that the Thessalonians do love one another, but they must learn to love one another “more and more” (verse 10)

The badge of true Christianity is not how much we know, what books we have read or preachers we have heard, or where we have been and what we are involved in, but whether we are loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul, in chapter 3 verse 12 has already challenged the believers to increase in their love for one another. There Paul wrote:

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you”

Paul had shown a costly love for the Thessalonians by sending Timothy to them. It meant Paul was left alone in Athens, but like a good parent Paul wanted to give of himself and his resources for the Thessalonian’s sake. So Paul says to the Thessalonians “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you” He repeats the challenge here in Chapter 4: 9, 10

Sandwiched between that challenge and this repeated call to grow in love is the passage we looked at previously; the call to live a holy life- Chapter 4:1-8. So when we think about what love entails we should dispense straight away with any notion of sentiment. Love is informed by holiness and holiness by love. They are welded together. Both holiness and love are harmonised in the Nature of God- and His dealings with us are consistent with both attributes. So too God desires these should be increasingly harmonised and evident in our conduct. Holiness and Love always go together. What God has joined together let no man separate! So the first thing we should see is that if we are to grow in love for one another this must parallel our own growth in holiness of life.

Unholy behaviour always destroys true love between believers. For example, a fruit of holiness is self-control. The Holy Spirit produces this fruit. Paul says in Chapter 4, verse 4 “each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honourable”. Now the person who cannot control their tongue- the guilt inducer who makes little jibes when they speak to you to make you feel guilty, the gossip and slanderer, the Mr Angrys of this world who use words like bullets, the proud who love to stir up dissention, the heretic who confuses with his own ideas rather than preaching the Word of God- the person who cannot control their tongue destroys Christian fellowship. James writes “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire…” (James 3: 5, 6a) Unholy speech disables growth in love. It destroys fellowship.

Sexual immorality also disables growth in love. Paul highlights sexual immorality earlier in our chapter- chapter 4:1-8 as an enemy of holiness. It is not only the enemy of holiness, but also the enemy of love. When a man lusts after a woman who is not his wife and fails to control his body and has an adulterous affair, he not only betrays his wife he is also acting unlovingly towards the woman’s husband. Paul specifies this, verse 6 “In this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him”. Sexual immorality is unloving. It hurts marriages, it hurts families, it hurts Christian Churches.

If you want to grow in love for your brothers and sisters in Christ, you must grow in holiness. Does this mean a return to the bad old days of self-righteousness and legalism where people are scared stiff to be in Church because someone might disapprove of what they wear or the type of music they listen to? God forbid! Holiness has nothing to do with these external forms and manmade laws. Jesus expressed a holy anger against the Pharisees because their nit picking behaviour was unloving- it was stopping others from coming to know God. 

Does it mean that if a person screws up when it comes to holiness they are no longer loved, no longer welcome? Not at all. We are all in the process of being sanctified and this is a lifelong work of God in us. In that time we will sin. This is why every week we build into the service opportunity to confess our sins. None of us are perfect. We ourselves are accepted by God on account of His grace and we must show that same grace towards one another. We do not presume on that grace but where a person’s sin has hurt someone in the fellowship and they repent of their sin, they are forgiven and what they have done is now forgotten. Where they apologise to the person they have sinned against- that relationship will grow in love.

So, again, if we are to grow in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ we must grow in holiness.

In verse 9 Paul writes that the believers have been “taught by God to love each other”. We understand more about what it is to love others when we look at what the Bible tells us about God’s love. God has demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. Here is the supreme expression of love. Our very existence is due to the love and mercy of God. Indeed, we only love because “He first loved us”. Further, the Holy Spirit reminds us of these truths. Paul admits that in one way he doesn’t need to write about the believers needing to grow in love because God, by His Spirit, is already teaching them this. The Christian has God’s nature and Spirit living within them. Fish don’t need to learn how to swim, birds instinctively put out their wings and flap them in order to fly. By their very nature they act in these ways. So too the Christian who is now born again by God’s Spirit and has God’s nature will now love because “God is love”.

When we are first believers we have a natural affinity for other Christians. This comes from the Spirit who witnesses within us that we are now God’s son or daughter, and we want to be with his family and fellowship with them. But if we are to grow in love- to love one another more deeply- then we are to move beyond that affinity, that sense of affection, and to love one another with God’s sacrificial agape love. This is to love the other regardless of feelings or personal preferences. This deeper love in the fellowship will show itself in the ability to forgive one another- perhaps long standing grudges and resentments. It’s costly and sacrificial to do it, but that is how God loves us in Christ. C.S. Lewis captures the sense of cost entailed in forgiving others when he writes “Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it”

This deeper love for Christian brothers and sisters will also show itself in sacrificial service for their sakes. The Bible teaches we are to use the gifts God has given us to build others up in their faith. The gifts and ministries are varied, they include practical helps such as the gift of administration, creative gifts such as musical ability sanctified for God’s use, prayer ministry as well as teaching, evangelistic and pastoral gifts. We function as one body in a healthy and efficient way when we each play our part. Many use their gifts here at Angmering. I particularly admire our Deacons in this respect who give of themselves in service of the church

I think we can already see that this deeper love for others has nothing to do with feeling or self-interest, rather it is sacrificial, practical and spontaneous- it looks for opportunity and anticipates areas of need to be met, and then gets on with meeting that need

And growing in love is not restricted to the local fellowship. The Thessalonians, verse 10, “loved all the believers throughout Macedonia”. Because of modern means of communication we can support our brothers and sisters nationally and in other countries. We are kept informed by missionary letters and so, through prayer and financial gifts we can support brothers and sisters abroad.

Paul, in verses 11 and 12, next addresses our attitude to Work.

It appears that some of the Thessalonian believers had misunderstood about the Lord’s return. They thought it was imminent and had given up their jobs- they couldn’t see the point of working anymore. It could well be that Paul has these believers in mind when he writes these instructions about work in Chapter 4: 11, 12: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”.

Unfortunately while some were waiting around for the Lord to return, they had time to be over involved in the affairs of others. Later in his second letter to them in 2 Thess. 3:11 Paul had to reprimand busybodies. People not busy about working themselves, but busy meddling in other people’s matters. So he says here “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business”. These people are to lead a quiet life- they’re not to be running around over involved in other people’s lives. Rather they are to lead a quiet life

This is the quietness of an inner peace that enables a man or woman to be sufficient through faith in Christ. Brother Lawrence knew this peace while he worked. He said “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquillity as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament” This is the peace and quiet we are to seek to cultivate within our own work situations. We are not to be busybodies prying into the lives of others:

In John 21 Jesus commissioned Peter and told him something of his future to which Peter got too curious and wanted to know about John’s future. To which Jesus essential reply was “What is that to you?” We need to look to what God has called us to do and not encroach on what God has called other people to do. We must not think that the welfare of other believers all depends on us, the Lord has them and their future in His hands and He will form them into His image, not ours. We need to pray for them and then get on with what God has called us to do. There’s a famous saying that has some bearing on this: “God grant me the courage to change the things I can and the serenity to accept the things I can’t.” This is a healthy attitude towards others, especially for those of us who have grown children and towards others in the Church family for whom we feel some responsibility.

Yes, we are to “mind our own business”. We are to get on with our own work. In fact the Bible teaches that God has ordained work as the normal routine of living. Part of our obedience to God is to work. That God has ordained work has several implications: First

He gave us work so we can be self-supporting. Those Thessalonians who had given up work to wait for the Lord’s return were being unloving towards their fellow Christians. They were sponging off other Christians, some of whom may not have had sufficient funds for their own families. They had become parasites on the body of Christ. Paul says to them get on with your own work so, verse 12, “you will not be dependent on anybody else”. We need to be careful here when it comes to the unwaged who are drawing unemployment benefit or living on welfare. John Stott writes

“The problem of unemployment is both a symptom of economic recession and a traumatic personal experience. What Paul is condemning here is not unemployment as such (when people want work but cannot find it) but idleness (when work is available but people do not want it). He is emphasizing that we should be keen to earn our own living, in order to support ourselves and our family, and so not need to rely on others. True, it is an expression of love to support others who are in need; but it is also an expression of love to support ourselves, so as not to need to be supported by others.”

Further, since God has ordained work it follows that every legitimate task may be seen as God’s calling. The Bible doesn’t set “secular” work against Christian service, and the New Testament recognises both paid and voluntary work: Both those who are unemployed or retired- for example- can have significant input for good and find satisfaction through voluntary work. All work done specifically for the Lord is an act of worship.  Here Paul says to the Thessalonians “work with your hands”. The Greeks despised manual labour. Most of the work was done by slaves. But that is not to be the Christian attitude towards manual labour. There’s a tendency in our society to see our work as a source of significance –so, for example, a bank manager is thought to be more important than a craftsman. But that is a worldly attitude. Our worth is found in our relationship with God; our acceptance by Him. All work- if it is done as an act of worship towards God- is acceptable and a means of bringing Him glory, including “work with your hands”

John White brings out something of the beauty of true craftsmanship when he tells the story of being given a handmade tea pot;

“Mia gave us a teapot. Mia is a woman who has a knack of winning the confidence of teenagers in trouble. She is also observant and thoughtful. Two things about the teapot struck me. First, it was beautiful- unglazed, dull red, exquisite in shape and overlaid with ceramic flowers. The other thing I noticed is that she had spotted an empty niche near our fireplace that was waiting for something like that teapot. Her choice was a hand-and-glove fit. Mia proudly told us, “Its unique. The craftsman only made one like this”

A week later the Changs spotted the teapot. “Why I do believe…” he began as he crossed the room towards it. “Yes, it is. These used to be made in a village near where I was born. The earth there…its different from anywhere els” There was growing excitement in his voice. “I remember exactly how they made them.” He paused and his wife leaned over and spotted Chinese characters on the inner surface. “They’re very rare,” he said. “Even in China…”

White goes on to say “Its beauty witnesses eloquently to the joy someone had in making it”

Every legitimate task may be seen as God’s calling, including craftsmanship/ manual skills.

There is a third consequence that God has ordained our work. It follows that all we do we should do wholeheartedly for Him. We are not working principally for our boss, or for the money, we do our work as to God- as serving Christ. Paul even wrote to slaves to obey their earthly masters “not only when there eye is on you and to win their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do work at it with all your heart, as working for the lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:22, 23).

Paul was not justifying slavery. His instruction applies to any worker today- student, factory worker, craftsman or manager. Paul is describing the spirit and wholehearted motivation that should lie behind any work performed by a Christian, anywhere and under any circumstance. Our Christian character should shine through in the way we work for the Lord and in the values that are important to us. If we work like that then, as verse 12 puts it we will “win the respect of outsiders”:

Mark Greene in his book “Thank God It’s Monday” writes:

Mike Z was a Christian financial controller. A friendly, outgoing man who took a job working for a Jewish millionaire in a successful small business. To get to his boss’s office Mike had to pass through an open-plan office area. As he did he would say ‘hello’ to those who noticed him going through. It seemed the natural, friendly thing to do. His boss told him that he didn’t want him talking to anyone on his way to his office. This seemed entirely unreasonable and somewhat cold and Mike continued to greet his co workers

His boss told him not to

Mike prayed about the situation and decided to do what his boss told him rather than follow conventional working practice. A while later, his boss came up to him and said, “You’re a born again Christian, aren’t you?” mike nodded, wondering what was coming. “Well”, his boss continued, “I’m looking to hire some more people. Know any of your kind who might be interested? Mike’s submission, as well as his general performance, had adorned the gospel. His employer wasn’t yet a Christian but he recognised the difference Christ made in someone’s life. And, to him at least, it’s commercial value”

Maybe you don’t think you are able to grow in love for others in the ways we have thought about this morning. You are aware of those times where you have not lived a holy, controlled life. You look at God’s sacrificial love, and you know you should imitate it through developing the gifts He has given you and in meeting the needs of others in the fellowship or further  afield, but you wonder if your mediocre contribution in these things-so it seems to you- will make any real difference.

Maybe you are dissatisfied with your work. It’s stressful and you can’t conceive of having peace within the situation through Christ. You know every kind of task is work ordained by God and valuable to Him but you wonder if you really will be able to view your work in that way. You feel it’s seen as a mediocre job which you sometimes fail with, are frequently bored with and you feel your performance in it is also mediocre. Similarly you wonder if you can you really learn to do it wholeheartedly for him when up to now you’ve done it for other reasons or even just to survive? If you’re unemployed you may feel anxious about your future, and you’re not sure about working voluntarily in the meantime.

Well if you have any of these feelings I would encourage you to surrender yourself to the Lord any way. Twenty centuries ago a crowd of 5000 people were hungry after listening to Jesus. The disciples were nonplussed when Christ suggested they feed the crowd. Close at hand was a boy with 5 barley loaves and two fish, and, as Philip pointed out “What are they among so many?” Yet given to Jesus, the mediocre offering fed multitudes.

Give Him your loaves and fishes, the willingness to grow in love for other believers, however insignificant you feel your sacrifice for them can be. Give Him your work situation, however unpromising. And see what He will yet do through you and in you as you learn to follow His word in these ways. Nothing outwardly may change, but God’s heart will be gladdened and you will begin to taste the satisfaction of “finding your life”, having lost it in love for others, and you will begin to taste the joy of work well done.

Prayer. Quiet reflection


“Lord of all hopelessness” MP 882 (Keyboards)

Jan Struther


May the Lord bless you and take care of you.

May the Lord be kind and gracious to you

May the Lord look on you with favour and give you peace. Amen


David Barnes 1/2/23

David Barnes 1/2/23

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