God’s grace is both wonderful news to us and a wonderful command. Peter says in the book of Acts “Repent and turn to God, that your sins may be wiped out and times of refreshing may come from the Lord”. God graciously enables us to see our sin in the light of the cross of Christ so we can be delivered from its deception. The people of Israel discovered that the very place of their defeat would be the place of their renewal through repentance. Jesus too will transform our sin to be the place of greatest comfort, greatest renewal and greatest hope. This is the good news that all people need.
Come, let us be refreshed in the Lord.
The notion of rest is not one that sits easy with us in our frantic, crazy, busy, demanding world.
The need for rest is built into creation and is essential to our very beings. In Genesis, we are told that God rested from his creative work and we are called to find rest throughout the scriptures; not least in the 10 commandments. How do we find the rest that our souls need for life? How can we learn to live in rest in the face of the demands that are placed on us daily? This is at the heart of the gospel and is at the centre of why Jesus came as God to us.
Today we are thrilled to welcome to our pulpit young people from the Coro Youth Group who will bring God’s word to us:
Tilly Dent, Chloe Laycock, Seg Phiri and Henry Weenink
They have each gone through some training in preaching and have a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. We look forward to hearing God’s word of the gospel through them!
The apostle Paul says to an ancient church “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!“ He has one life and one message. The message of God’s love expressed in the person and work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ is the compelling power that directs all he does. Our prayer is that we too might have such knowledge of God in our hearts so that we also can say the same thing. “Jesus let me be so consumed with your glory, that you are my one life, my one message”. It’s a message that sets us on a course of love, of sacrifice and service. Come Lord Jesus. Fill our hearts with the good news of the gospel.
We’ve seen this week wonderful effect of good people fighting on behalf of the powerless. Bahraini Footballer and refugee Hakeem Al Arabi was released from prison in Thailand after advocacy from people around the world. It is further evidence to many that we can achieve our dream of a better world if we all just work together for justice and accept everyone.
But as history shows us, wars continue, injustice still pervades and the world is a place of winners and losers. Deep in our hearts we know the world we long for will remain a dream as it has done for the millennia of human existence. There is good news for the world though. And His name is Jesus.
Compromise is often a good thing. It helps us find a way to maintain relationship when people think differently. But not all compromise is good. For example its not right for us to compromise our obedience to God. The scriptures regularly challenge churches who seek to find a middle ground between obedience to God’s Word and the dominant view of their culture. The bible is also filled with examples of how costly this way is. What might help us to not compromise our faith without turning into miserable legalists? The New Testament’s answer is the resurrection of Jesus. There is uncompromising Hope for all of us if we don't give up.
What is a Christian? Have you asked yourself that question lately? A Christian is not a person who believes in a set of doctrines or prays to God or has a particular way of seeing the world. A Christian is someone who has been drawn into a relationship with their Father in heaven through Jesus Christ and his work on our behalf in the power of the Holy Spirit and knows and lives in that place. God desires the whole world to be Christian. To be Christian first, before we are good or Godly or do Christian things like share the gospel. If we are truly Christian then these things will follow. Jesus is the one who shares and leads us into the place of intimacy and power because only He knows what it is like. We need to set our eyes on him. That's what I think God wants for all of us in 2019. To be a people focused on Jesus.
After his baptism and temptation Jesus is filled with the Spirit of God for God’s task. This task was prophesied by Isaiah centuries before and Jesus knows that it is fulfilled in him. That task is to proclaim good new to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed and the present time of God’s favour and grace to the world. He proclaims it. It’s an announcement, not an instruction. It’s no longer even a promise. That’s why it is good news. It’s not fake news or an empty promise. It’s a promise fulfilled and a promise that continues to change the world.
We’ve more than likely all had times in our lives when we’ve felt like God is at a distance, and a quick read through the scriptures reveals that many of our heroes of the faith felt the same. In Psalm 13 we read David’s words of lament, when he felt as though God was distant, and we also see his reassurance that God is faithful despite our feelings. I hope today that you will walk away feeling encouraged by the abundant grace of God, which demonstrates God’s faithfulness to us, whether we feel it or not!