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Sermon – When Jesus Returns As King – Revelation 21 to 22

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When Jesus returns back as King

Revelation 21-22

 

Introduction

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We maybe about 5 months away from Christmas but as you know, at Christmas, we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a human. Christmas is a time where the Church and our community celebrate Jesus Christ’s first coming as a baby.  The community like to think of Jesus as a baby, because a baby can be controlled. Somewhat.  Though that is coming from the perspective of somebody who has never had children!!!  Society in general, is comfortable with leaving Jesus as a baby.  However, Jesus is not a baby now, He is King and what a King.  He is coming again, not as a baby this time, but as King and judge.  Both ideas are affirmed by Jeremiah and John.

Christ’s reign

Have you ever wondered what the book of Revelation was all about? The writer is the Apostle John, now approaching 100 years of age and he is almost blind.  John was in exile on Patmos, put there by the Romans due to his witness for Jesus.  There was open persecution of Christians at the time.  This is the same John, who was the apostle Jesus loved.  John saw Jesus walk on the water.  He seen and heard Jesus command a storm to cease! He saw Jesus weeping.  He saw Jesus in righteous anger clearing the Temple courts.  He seen Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons.  He had his feet washed by Jesus.  He saw Jesus transfigured.  He saw Jesus die. He had seen Jesus risen and ascended. John now sees Jesus in all the fulness of His glory and Jesus shows him the new city!

Prepared!

When I have to go away by myself, I know that when I get home, I know I am expected and loved.  My wife has my favourite meal prepared.  The heating is on and the proverbial pipe and slippers are ready.  Everything I like, that makes it a home for me, is done for me!  After my first week down here, I returned back there, and was showered with balloons and all manner of things, because I was expected and she loves me!!

Similarly, when we get to heaven, Jesus has prepared a place for those of us who love Him, trust Him and obey Him as King.  Our King is waiting for us!  He is expecting us, wanting to lavish His love upon us.  We know He loves us now, but that is only in part.  When we are with Him eternally, we shall have the full picture of Jesus.  He is with us now in Spirit, but then we shall be with Him physically and face to face. Heaven is a prepared place of majestic beauty.  John portrays his visions for us, building up layer upon layer of words, as a painter painting a painting.  Laying on the colours, layer upon layer until finally the painting is finished.

Purity (v.1-4)

Heaven is a prepared place. Secondly, it is a pure place.  We all suffer in some way.  For myself in the recent past, I have suffered a brain haemorrhage and I have lost three days, I will never regain.  I continue to take medication for blood pressure and hypothyroidism in the morning and in the evening I take anti-convulsants.  I take so many pills I rattle when I walk.  With the medication, come all manner of side effects.   I find it difficult doing certain activities.  Sometimes my entire body aches and groans in protest at my actions.  We suffer, don’t we.  My father died 10 years ago from a misdiagnosed hiatus hernia.  My mother suffers with arthritis and hyperthyroidism.  One of my brothers suffer with clinical depression.  A lady I know back in London, Pam, is sleeping in her front room because her leg is so swollen she cant get up her stairs to her bedroom.  We suffer don’t we?

One day soon, we will have perfect bodies and full health.  We only have to look at the news on TV or read the papers to see global suffering. When our King returns, there will be no more terrorism, missiles, guns, wars or bombs.  No more will man’s inhumanity to man be allowed.  No more torture, rapes, muggings or robberies.  No more poverty or famine.  No more religion, idols or icons.  No more gossip, fornication, adultery, lying or debauchery.  No more cowardice.  No more pain.  No more death.  No more suffering. No more sin. Suffering of any kind leaves some sort of scar or mark.  Do you have scars?  Physical, emotional or mental scars due to sickness, somebody else sinning against you or as a result of your own sins?  Scars come as a result of human life.  Much like a house that has lovingly lived in.  Scratches in the paintwork.  Dents and knocks in the wood.  Our human bodies are the same, yet… 

Yet, one day they will be gone!! Vanished!!  A pure body you will have!! And I will have! No need for annoying spectacles.  There will be no Specsavers or Stannah stair-lifts in heaven!!  No more wheelchairs.  No more walking sticks or frames.  No more hearing-aids.  No more braces or dentures.  No more doctors or dentists!! Perfection attained and it is to the glory of God and His majestic doing, that this will occur.  Do you believe it? Do you live it? Are you suffering today from sickness?  Are you suffering today because of somebody else?? 

Well one day, one glorious day, all suffering will be banished for those of us who love Him.  Read with me verse 4, “God will wipe away our tears.  There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and no more pain, for former things have passed away.”  Take that verse to heart.  What a glorious day it will be for those of us who love Him now.  God Himself, with our face in His hands, wiping away our tears…  It will be a place where we will live the fruit of the spirit eternally.  A place where  “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal.5:22-23)  are both permanent and universal. That is part of our King’s manifesto.  What a day, that will be!!  We will enter those gates, thanking Jesus, looking back at how we suffered.  Not only medically, but also for His sake under persecution.  We will be able to say with Jeremiah and John “It was worth it all.  The sufferings I endured  and overcame for the sake of Jesus, was all worth it, so as to be here eternally and living with our King.”

Pearly gates (v.21)

Heaven is prepared for us and it is a pure place.  Lastly we enter through giant gates of pearl.  Do you know how a pearl is formed?  When an oyster gets an irritating grain of sand within its shell, it covers the grain of sand over with layers of mother-of-pearl until the irritation and the suffering is no longer felt.  Now what do you think the suffering was that created  these giant pearls that are the gates (v21)?  I think they are to remind us of the cross and the suffering and pain that Jesus endured.  People denigrate the cross.  I have had people say that “the cross doesn’t matter”  and “your religion is as good as mine thank you very much.”  Others state “that all religions lead to heaven”. 

However, the very gates of heaven tells us that these things are wrong.  They tell us that it is only through the cross, that we get to pass through and enjoy heaven in worship and service of God.  Only through the pain, the agony and the suffering that Jesus endured, culminating in His death as He cried out “My God! My God!  Why have You forsaken me?” Our King Himself has suffered for us, so that we may enjoy His company forever and ever, if we only trust and obey Him now and place our faith in Him while we are here in this our temporal home on earth.  We know in part now, but then we will know in full. This makes the sins that we commit while we are here on earth trying to follow Him, even more serious. 

Sometimes we take a rather blasé attitude to sin.  We excuse it as only a minor thing and of no consequence.  Each time we sin as believers, it is as if we are spitting in the very face of Jesus.  Our desire should be, to be Jesus and to be like Him.  I long to be perfect.  When I make a mistake and sin, I cry out in frustration to be perfect now!  However, I also know that God is taking off my rough edges to continue making me purer, more like His Son and our King, under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. I won’t be entering heaven because I am Australian and showing my Australian passport.  Although I consider that a very close second.  You won’t even be able to claim your entry into heaven by showing your British passport, let alone as a member of the European community.  No… we can only enter heaven, our new home, through the cross.  When we first decided for Jesus and turned over our lives to Him, that is when our eternal life with Him commenced.

Conclusion

Be encouraged, heaven is for you if you are trusting and obeying Jesus and have Him as Lord of your life!  Remember.  Whatever your attitude and how you judge Jesus now, is how He will judge you when He returns!  Are you following Him and treating Him with respect and reverence?  If you aren’t, then it isn’t too late to change your mind and then the reward of eternal living in heaven will be yours! Are you suffering?  Suffering will soon be gone.  When you sin against God, keep a short account and ask for forgiveness as soon as you recognise that you have sinned and the Holy Spirit has convicted you of it. We yearn to be with our King for ever and ever.  Yet, we are to keep one part of our mind on Heaven and the other on the responsible work we have been set to do, here on earth.  We are not to be so heavenly minded, that we are of no earthly use. 

Conversely, we are not to be so earth bound, that we are not tied to King Jesus in our eternal home. Go tell somebody.  Won’t you go tell somebody this week, this message.  Heaven is a great big place, and there will be room for everybody in this town, this county, this nation and this world to enter through one of those twelve gates!  Go and share this good news with somebody this very week, so that there may be somebody in that magnificent City, because you told them. Christ is our King of Righteousness.  Trust Him and live a life worthy of Him.   Look for His coming! Be expectant, the King is coming back for us soon!  Critics of the church sneer “Where is your God?” and “The end of the Church is surely near”.  They are so impatient!! 

Well… our God will appear soon.  He is coming back as King of Righteousness, judging evil and rejecting those who reject Him whilst rewarding those who patiently trust and obey Him.

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Sermon – Understanding the Kingdom – John 3

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Sermon – Understanding the Kingdom (John 3:1-21)

 

1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee. 2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. 6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. 7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? 11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. 12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. 14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
(John 3:1-21) New Living Translation

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Introduction

I wonder what you think the Kingdom of God is.  In the Old Testament we learn of all kinds of different earthly kingdoms. Each one of these kingdoms were doomed to fail from the start, because of the promised commencement of a new and everlasting kingdom. Perhaps by having a brief overview of what Jesus in the Gospels said about the Kingdom will help us understand more about it before we focus on just a couple of aspects. From what Jesus said, we learn that:

  • The kingdom had small beginnings.
  • It advances slowly and unspectacularly.
  • It works in an unseen way, like yeast in dough.
  • It grows side by side with evil and error.
  • The members are drawn from every part, for it is a universal part.
  • When discovered, it is the source of true joy and fulfilment.
  • It requires sacrifice, submission and surrender.
  • It ends in an eternal separation of the good from the evil, of the true from the false.
  • It centres only on Jesus Christ (Luke 9:28-36).

So having seen these descriptions, mainly from Matthew 13, we can now go on to a main definition of the kingdom. We find this ultimate definition in Romans 14:17 ‘For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’

This is the experience of salvation. Every believer, all those who trust in Jesus Christ, has entered it and been accepted by Jesus when He died on the cross. So, having described it and then defined it, the next question we ask is how do we enter the Kingdom of God. Well, after such a long introduction, we are going to look at this aspect of the God’s Kingdom based on our reading of John 3:1-18.  So, if you haven’t done so already please do have your bibles open at that passage – John 3:1-18.


1.      Birth (vs. 1-7)
a. Pain – Human birth involves pain, both for the parents and for the baby. So does spiritual birth. At Easter we are reminded this of the pain Jesus endured on the cross so that we might become members of the Kingdom of God. Believers in their Christian life should endure the pain of persecution, suffering, and prayer and witness as we seek to win new people to Christ.
b. Nature
– Children inherit the nature of the parents, and so do the people in the Kingdom of God. We take on the divine nature (2 Peter 1 :4). As believers we should naturally have an appetite for the things of God (2 Peter 2:2-3). As believers we should have no desire to go away from the Kingdom of God (2 Peter 2:20-22). As believers we are to feed on the Word of God and grow in spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5: 11-14).
c. Life
– Human birth, involves life and spiritual birth into God’s kingdom involves the life of God. John uses the word ‘life’ about 36 times in his gospel. The opposite of life is death, and anybody not in the Kingdom of God, do not and cannot have God’s eternal life in His kingdom.
d. Future
– Human birth involves a future, and we are born again to a living hope, both in the present and the future (1 Peter 1:3). Police cannot arrest a newborn baby because it has no past, and the future is in front of that baby.  When born again into the Kingdom of God, sins are forgiven and forgotten, and the future is bright with a living hope in the Kingdom of God.

2.      The wind (vs. 8-13).

It is possible that the evening wind was blowing just then as Nicodemus and Jesus sat the housetop talking. The ‘wind’ in the Bible, signifies the Spirit. When Jesus used this symbol, Nicodemus should have remembered Ezekiel 37:1-14. The prophet Ezekiel saw a valley full of dead bones; but when he prophesied to the wind, the Spirit came and gave the bones’ life.

Again, it was the combination of the Spirit of God and the Word of God that gave life. The nation of Israel was dead and hopeless, and in spite of the morality and religion of the people, they needed the life of the Spirit. The new birth from above is necessary to enter the Kingdom of God, but it is also a mystery. Everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind: it is impossible to explain or predict the ways of the wind or the Spirit of God.Nicodemus came “by night’ and he was still in the dark! He simply could not understand the concept of new birth even after Jesus had explained it to him. Jesus insisted that Nicodemus’ Old Testament knowledge should have given him the light he required (John 3:10). Yet, he still could not see how to enter the Kingdom of God.
What was his problem? Religious leaders would not submit to Jesus’ authority and witness (John 3: 11). The religious leaders continued to believe Moses, yet would not believe Jesus (John 5:35-47). “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

3. The snake on the pole (vs. 14-18).

This story from Numbers was certainly familiar to Nicodemus. It is a story of sin, for Israel rebelled against God and had to be punished. God sent fiery snakes that bit the people, so that many died. Yet it is also a story of grace, for Moses intercede for the people and God provided a remedy. He told Moses to make a brass snake and lift it up on a pole for all to see. Any sick and dying person could look to the brass snake on the pole and be immediately healed. So, it is also a story of faith, punishment, salvation and faith. The phrase lifted up means to be crucified (John 8:28; 12:13-24) and also be glorified and exalted. John points out that our Lord’s crucifixion was actually the means for Him to be glorified (John 12:23). However the cross was not the end of His glory, it was the way He achieved His glory (Acts 2:33).

Much as the snake on the pole had to be lifted up, so the Son of God, Jesus had to be lifted on the cross. This happened to save all people from sin and death. In the camp of Israel, the solution to the “snake problem” was not in killing the snakes, or taking medicine against the poison, or pretending the snakes were not there, or passing anti-snake laws or by climbing the pole. The answer was to look in faith at the lifted snake. Now, the whole world has been bitten by sin (Romans 6:23). God sent His son to die, not only for Israel, but also for the whole world. The Kingdom of God is not just for Israel, or England or even the United States of America. How does a person enter the Kingdom of God? By being born again from above, which means believing on Jesus and looking to Him in faith.

Each of us that are believers have therefore entered into the Kingdom of God and are spiritually living. The difference between living spiritually and being dead spiritually is faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus could well have come to this world as a Judge and destroyed every rebellious sinner; but He came in love. Jesus came into the world as our Saviour, to guide us into the Kingdom of God, and He died on the cross, Jesus became the “uplifted snake”.
The brass snake in Moses’ day brought physical life to dying Jews; but Jesus gives eternal life to all who asks and trusts in Him. He brings the Kingdom of God for a whole world, Nicodemus eventually entered the Kingdom of God, when he spoke up for Jesus in John 7 and came into a “sunlight of confession” when he identified with Jesus at Calvary bringing the spice to prepare the body for burial (John 19:38-42). He realized that the uplifted Jesus on the cross, was the path into the world-wide Kingdom of God

Conclusion

Therefore lets go over tonight’s lessons from the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus. The definition of the kingdom of God is exposed from Romans 14:17 which we also see as the experience of salvation. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The path into the kingdom of God, was defined in the 3 distinct pictures Jesus told to Nicodemus. Firstly in the picture of new birth from above, secondly in the picture of the blowing wind or spirit and thirdly in the Old Testament picture of the snake on the pole.

As we finish, what are we to say. For those of us who are in the kingdom of God: are you growing in your faith and immersing more of yourself into the Kingdom of God. Is your story or testimony of what Jesus is doing in your life up to date, or are you living on past memories, last Easters’ prayers and past Sundays’ sermons. The testimony of how we are living in the Kingdom of God is vital for our witness in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus commanded us to go and tell, so go and tell the wondrous news of an eternal kingdom – one which will never end! God has promised and He always fulfils His promises.

Now finally, what stops people from entering into the Kingdom of God?  People want to continue to do things against God, and this keeps them from coming out of darkness into the light of the Kingdom of God. This is because the closer someone who loves darkness gets closer to light, the more their evil ways are exposed to the light of God. It is not any intellectual problems that keep people out of the Kingdom. It is a moral and spiritual problem. It would involve a change of lifestyle, of being ‘born again’ as it was.

What is your reason, for not being yet a believer and follower of Jesus Christ? If for some reason, you are not part of God’s kingdom yet, then your opportunity is here. You may not get another chance. You might just walk on out of here tonight, not having entered into the eternal Kingdom of God, and die. It really could be that shocking and happen. Take your opportunity now.  Please do come and see one of the leaders about how you can enter the Kingdom of God this very night!

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Sermon – The Story of Athaliah and Jehosheba

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The Story of Athaliah & Jehosheba (2 Chronicles 22-23)

When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family of the house of Judah. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes who were about to be murdered and put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Because Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and wife of the priest Jehoiada, was Ahaziah’s sister, she hid the child from Athaliah so that she could not kill him. He remained hidden with them at the temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled the land. (2 Chronicles 22:10-12)

Jehoiada and his sons brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; they presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’ When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and cheering the king, she went to them at the temple of the Lord. She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets, and musicians with their instruments were leading the praises. Then Athaliah tore her robes and shouted, ‘Treason! Treason!’ Jehoiada the priest sent out the commanders of units of a hundred, who were in charge of the troops, and said to them: ‘Bring her out between the ranks and put to the sword anyone who follows her.’ For the priest had said, ‘Do not put her to death at the temple of the Lord.’ So they seized her as she reached the entrance of the Horse Gate on the palace grounds, and there they put her to death. Jehoiada then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the Lord’s people. All the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. (2 Chronicles 23:11-15)

 

This story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster! I can see Angelina Jolie playing the role of Athaliah and Julie Andrews as Jehosheba! What do you think? As hard as it is to believe, our two characters tonight are related! There is their family line. Clearly there is a lack of creative imagination in the naming of children though! Jehosheba had the same father as Ahaziah and was Athaliah’s step-daughter! All very confusing! With that in mind, let us persevere together.

 

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Sermon – God, Internet Church and You

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Sermon – God, the Church and the Internet

(John 17:13-19 & Romans 12:3-13)

13 ‘I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. (John 17v13-19)

3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality. (Romans 12v3-13)


Introduction

We are, as I am sure you are aware, in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic. All gatherings of Christians to gather in Churches has had to cease. How has the Church responded to this. They have gone online and using the internet! But why are they using it when before they largely eschewed it? Let’s look together at the what, why and how Church can also fit in with a biblical world view.Not just accepting it but embracing it fully, taking advantages of all the opportunities it affords as well as being wary of any liabilities or warnings. Let’s go!

Symptomatic of human history has been the development of different technologies. Each generation seems to have had a great leap forward in some way! Think of the wheel, the printing press, the wireless, the combustion engine and the silicon chip!

One of the developments that I am sure that you have noticed is the internet. Everything is on the internet now it seems – increasingly so at a government & banking level! Everybody here has used it – either directly or indirectly. The internet is here. It isn’t going to go away and it will continue to develop and expand.

Likewise, the church is here too. It also isn’t going to go away (at least at a universal level) and it also will develop and expand. So let’s tonight look at what this internet is, why the Church should be using it and lastly how the church can use it for the glory of God. By using it, I do mean more than just a website with the latest information, events and sermons on it!

1. What is the internet?
2 – Can God interact on the Internet?
3. Why should the Church be on the Internet?
3a. Go into the world but don’t be part of it (John 17:13-19)
3b. Go serve, you gifted people! (Romans 12:3-8)
3c. Love in action (Romans 12:9-13)
4. What are some of the benefits?
4a. Reach out to the world!
4b. Assisting Housebound & disabled people
4c. Assisting the Geographically Isolated


Conclusion

Tonight we have looked together very briefly at God, the Church and the Internet. I hope that you have been blessed by our time together. We saw how God can interact on the internet. We saw why we should be using the internet for God’s Glory as well as some suggested ways as to how to do this. We are on a mission. A mission to tell people the Good News of Jesus Christ and to disciple them.

Part of this mission is the use of our Spiritual Gifts, which each of us have. We are to use every opportunity to develop them, use them and enable others in the use of them. For this is God’s will for you and it reflects His love of you to a world that is dying to know Him. We are to use our Spiritual gifts with the aid of our God-given imagination and creativity. Just because you can’t think of a way to do something, doesn’t mean somebody else can’t think of a way! Just because we don’t understand something, does not mean it is wrong! Don’t limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination! What is more, don’t limit others because of your own limited imagination.

Let’s use the internet communities of Facebook etc to uplift, encourage and support each other. I personally get more encouragement from those outside the church, non-Christians, than I do Christians. They are usually always the first to notice if I am absent without telling them or to tell me some good news.

Let’s go! Let’s go and fulfil our mission – on the Internet as well as in our streets and roads. It will mean more than just having an internet website with the latest events and sermons on it, but we can do it! Are you willing? Let’s go!

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Sermon – Living in the joy of salvation

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Sermon – Living in the joy of salvation (1 Peter 1:3-9)


1 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, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9)

Introduction

The Apostle Peter was writing to a group of people, followers of Jesus, spread throughout what we know as modern Turkey. These believing sojourners were undergoing trials, suffering & persecution. Peter instructs them toward Christian stability, and the proper expression of this stability and growth.

Throughout the letter, Peter stresses a hope so alive, so glorious and so very certain, that any persecution, trial and suffering can be endured. These people are sojourners or pilgrims on a spiritual journey! Last week we discovered that Peter reminds them of the God they worship and live for – a missional & relational God of salvation. A loving God who is Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the Father has chosen and is calling all people to Himself, out of amazing love for them. God the Holy Spirit sanctifies and cleanses to allow people to enter God’s holy presence through the obedient sacrifice of God the Son.

Then we learnt together about how within the believer, that there is a battle. A spiritual battle – the old earthly human nature battling against the new nature of the believer given to them by God. Salvation is yours, Peter says, so go let the world know that this salvation can be theirs also, by living so devoted to God that it permeates every facet of your life. That people will know you are God’s possession and God lives through you! WOW! The believing sojourner is to live such a good life that they are good witnesses for the God in whom they believe! We also know that this group of people are undergoing various forms of suffering and grief. Not the least, sporadic events of persecution but also the possibility of systematic persecution to come.


1. God the Joy Giver!

  • Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (v3)
  • His great mercy he has given (v3)
  • Resurrection of Jesus Christ (v3)
  • Jesus Christ is revealed (v7)

2. Living Out Joy!

  • New birth (v3)
  • Living hope (v3)
  • Inheritance (v4)
  • Shielded by God’s power (v5)
  • Salvation – future (v5)


3. Rejoice! (v6

  • Faith’s genuineness (v7)
  • Faith’s love (v8)
  • Faith’s belief (v8)
  • Faith’s joy (v8)
  • Faith’s outcome (v9)


Conclusion

For those of us who would call ourselves a Christian – a sojourner of Jesus Christ – you believe in Him and have placed your faith in Him for new hope, new life and salvation of your soul.

I wonder what trials including alienation and persecution you have undergone in the past, are undergoing at the moment or will persevere through in the future. I don’t even know how I will suffer and grieve in the future. But I do know who has the answers to our trials and testing. It is my God and your God. Our God of love – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He knows the answers and I have to trust in Him. Are you currently undergoing any sort of trial – run to God! He will listen! He is your protector, your guard and your empowerer! Remember He lives within you! He loves you! He cares for you! He is a personal God who has your best interests at heart!

As Christians we worship and serve a God who knows intimately about personal suffering. Our God isn’t an inanimate and passive carving, to be placed on a shelf or a wall which is immune to the suffering of the world. No! Our God is a personal, dynamic and active God who knows the suffering we ourselves endure – because He Himself has suffered. He is an intimate, dynamic, responsive and living personal being who has shared in our sufferings through Jesus when He died on a cross 2000 years ago. This same Jesus who was resurrected and raised to new life and witnessed by our author – the Apostle Peter! WOW! The ineffable God made known to humanity in the man Jesus Christ.

As part of our new hope and new life as Christians, as sojourners of Jesus Christ, we await that glorious day in the future when He has come again. That day when Jesus Christ will take your face in his scarred hands, and wipe away your tears. Wipe away your tears – tears of pain released and tears of ineffable and inexplicable joy! WOW! You and I will know then, that it was all worth it – the sufferings and trials that we have endured in this life, in order to enter the new life to come. Amazing! WOW!

On that final day, when your faith is tested, will it be proven to be genuine? Let this faith of yours always seek to give praise, honour and glory to Jesus and Him alone. May it be a faith being worked out by you living a life which is worthy of Him alone – which is seen by those currently not in the faith. Your genuine faith being expressed with inexplicable joy to those outside.

As Christians here, just as it was last week, it is an imperative that we go and show our new life, new hope, empowered and safeguarded by God’s power alone. Persecution may come and we will in some quarters even now be rejected. But we persevere. As Christians, we have good news for the world – it is up to us to go out living in the joy of salvation. We will be alienated by some, but also embraced by others. God is for us – who then shall we fear? God is a mission God – Peter clearly knows that – and because He is a mission God, we too are also on a mission. We have to take risks in order to continue this mission. History is filled with churches that failed to adapt and take the mission opportunities available to them. Will we be like that? I for one certainly do not hope so. We need to be reaching out, including those forgotten people – the people who cannot get out of their own homes for what ever reason. Helping those people who are already Christians and helping those who are not yet Christian, to find this living hope in God.

God is a tri-unity of Love… The Father loves the Son and the Spirit. The Son loves the Father and the Spirit. The Spirit loves the Father and the Son. We as a church are also to be a community of love. A love which mirrors that of the God of love… A love which looks not to its own interests but to the interests of others… Let’s go love… Encourage others – not just your friends or those you like… Let’s go encourage others enduring all sorts of tests and trials, just as Peter has done to this group of spiritual sojourners… God loves you… Let’s reflect the God we claim to love, follow and obey…

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