Online Sunday Service – 12th July 2020

SUNDAY SERVICE

Good morning all,

I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.

Please find this week’s Sunday Service copied below for those of you who may wish to read it.

I hope that you will be able to find the time to make a cup of tea or coffee, pull up a comfortable chair and read through the service, saying the prayers with us.

I hope too, that you will find something which will give you food for thought and some comfort too in these difficult times.

 

12th July 2020

Online Service

 

Good morning folks,

I hope you are keeping well and your spirits are lifted by the few sunny days and promise of more freedom. It’s been quite a roller coaster hasn’t it? And we are being told that there may well be a ‘spike’ over the winter – so safety and common sense must be our priority.

Sadly, many seem to have ‘lost the plot’ and insist on putting themselves, and others, in danger by visiting crowded pubs and beaches, rubbing shoulders with strangers who may well be carriers of the dreaded Covid 19 virus.

It’s a risky business, dicing with death, quite literally. I don’t know about you but I think that for my and my family’s wellbeing, I’ll choose to live in safety , security and sheltered a little longer.

I suppose it’s a matter for each of us to decide – whether to live a safe and secure life – or flirt with danger and so risk the inevitable consequences.

 

Our Lesson for today talks about choosing how we are going to live our lives. It gives us two images, one  of  safe and the other of unsafe living……

 

But before that, let us pray ~

 

PRAYER

 

Heavenly Father ~ we join together to praise you, our great and awesome God.

Lord – you are the God who so loved the world that you created the world and all that is good..

You are the God who so loved the world that you sent your only Son – for us……

Lord, your love for us brings wonder into our hearts as we see the beauty of your creation.

Lord, your love for us brings a smile to our faces as we share the joy of being alive.

Lord, your love for us brings tears into our eyes as we remember the pain you carry for humanity.

Lord, your love for us brings us joy as we remember the new life and hope that is ours through the resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus.

We worship you, O God of love – and we praise you above everything and everyone.

We come to join with our friends and family, wherever we may be this day to sing your praises, and to hear your word to us…….. And we ask that it enters our hearts and our minds – and so helps us to live our faith – rather than mere words or religious rhetoric.

We need your guidance, O Lord, and we pray that you will support us as we try to improve our lives – try to live as a good example of your children .. so that we might draw others to believe in the risen Christ – and be His light, shining in a dark world…..

Forgive us when our faith falters, forgive us our cynicism – our need for hard evidence before we believe…… draw close to us as we come cautiously to you – for fear that your amazing power might be too much for us to comprehend…

 

Loving Lord, we know that we must sadden and disappoint you at times – we know in our hearts that our lives are not as you would wish them to be – yet we find it so hard to change….. Help us Father – help us to make the changes we know must take place if we are to truly be your disciples, here where you have placed me.

Hear our prayers Lord – as we bring to you our prayers of confession for those things which we regret having said or done – asking for your forgiveness….

Hear our silent prayers – in the peace of our silence…

 ……take time to think about something you may have said or done – or thought – which you now regret and  would ask for forgiveness……silently confess them to God…. He hears your words…….

Forgive us father – bless us with your mercy and your grace….. For we ask it in Jesus’ name.

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

 

Our Father.. Who art in Heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven….. Give us this day our daily bread.. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

 

We have 2 Readings this morning –

Psalm 30  from the Old Testament (O.T.)

 

Matthew 7 : 21 – 29 from the New Testament (N.T.)

 

Our O.T reading is taken from the lovely book of Psalms – Psalm 30.

It’s a beautiful Psalm of thanksgiving in which we hear the psalmist – almost certainly king David – giving thanks for God’s saving hand in his difficult times.

 

Our N.T reading this morning is that well know text about the two houses – one built on sand and the other on rock.

And before we say ‘Oh – I  know that one’ – be sure to read the words carefully – you might see something you haven’t noticed before !

(the clue is in verse 24……..)

 

Let us read God’s Holy word together –

 

Psalm 30from the  International Standard Version (ISV)

Thanksgiving for Deliverance

V1 I exalt you, Lord,
for you have lifted me up,
and my enemies could not gloat over me.
Lord, my God!
I cried out to you for help
and you healed me.
Lord, you brought me from death;[a]
you kept me alive so that I did not descend into the Pit.[b]

You, his godly ones,
sing to the Lord,
give thanks at the mention of his holiness.
For his wrath is only momentary;
yet his favour is for a lifetime.
Weeping may lodge for the night,
but shouts of joy will come in the morning.

As for me,
I said in my prosperity,
“I will never be moved.”
By your favour, Lord,
you established me as a strong mountain;
Then you hid your face,
and I was dismayed.

I cried out to you, Lord,
and I make supplication to the Lord:
“What profit is there in my death[c] if I go down to the Pit?[d]
Can dust worship you?
Can it proclaim your faithfulness?”
10 Hear me, Lord,
and have mercy on me!
Lord, help me!

11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you took off my sackcloth
and clothed me with a garment of joy,
12 so that I may sing praise to you
and not remain silent.
Lord, my God,
I will give you thanks forever!

And now ~

Matthew 7 : 21 – 29  from the International Standard Version (ISV)

I Never Knew You

21 “Not everyone who keeps saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom from[a] heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name, drove out demons in your name, and performed many miracles in your name, didn’t we?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who practice evil!’”

The Two Foundations

24 “Therefore, everyone who listens to these messages[c] of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. 25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation was on the rock.

26 “Everyone who keeps on hearing these messages[d] of mine and never puts them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain fell, the floods came, the winds blew and battered that house, and it collapsed—and its collapse was total.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying all these things,[e] the crowds were utterly amazed at his teaching, 29 because he was teaching them like a person who had authority, and not like their scribes.”

Amen.

 

This is the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God.

 

SERMON

 

I don’t know if you saw it – but a while ago there was a programme on the television about houses which were built on cliffs beside the sea – and as the shore line became more eroded – the houses – peoples homes – were crumbling into the water.

And they weren’t just talking about a few inches each year – but in some cases – a few feet !

 

“Why would anybody want to buy a house in such a dangerous position ?” – we might ask – but of course, this problem wasn’t envisaged when the houses were built – they were built on firm foundations and would have been expected to stand for a few generations at the very least.

 

And so – as I was preparing this sermon – and re-read this text, where Jesus talks about the foolish and the wise builders – I immediately thought of that television programme.

 

And in the context of matters of faith – it goes without saying – of course – that we believe that we are the wise builders – our lives are built on a solid foundation – on the rock of our faith….

 

We are okay…………………… aren’t we ??

 

Isn’t it always ‘someone else’ who needs to worry ?…

 

But we should remember that Jesus didn’t just say in v 24 “whoever hears my words is like a wise person who builds his  house upon a rock”…….

 

What He actually said was ~ “whoever hears my words – and puts them into practice !   And that’s something completely different !

 

It’s not hearing the words of Jesus – it’s not even accepting that they’re true – it’s about whether you live out your faith – whether God’s Word makes a difference to your life.

It’s not about being a good church goer who can quote the Bible, Chapter and verse – but cares little for the feelings and lives of others and whose language and actions bear little resemblance to the teachings of our faith.

 

It’s about whether the words, life and promises of Jesus make a difference to who you are – how you live. That will determine if you will stand or fall when tested. .

*

In the first three verses of our N.T reading – we heard Jesus say “there will be those who call out my name – who will say look what I’ve done ! – but they will not be saved – only those who have ‘done the will of the Lord’ will be saved !”

 

So it’s not just about hearing – it’s about doing too.

It’s about putting God’s words into action – practicing what we preach…….

It’s not about what we say

However much we may mean it –

It’s about what we do – what’s in our hearts…

And when we realize that – we see that it is a game changer for people of faith, like you and I….

No longer is our faith – our lives – just  about coming to church – praying – as important as they are to our Christian growth –

No longer is it about talking the talk – it’s about walking the walk

No longer is it about what you wear to church – but about what you do in your everyday life… “outside of the church”…

It’s not just about  knowing the word of God – it’s about living the word of God…

 

*

 

In this world of change – the word of God is the one constant truth on which we should build our lives. That Rock who has stood firm throughout the ages.

Never changing –

The same, yesterday, to day and tomorrow.

 

The wisdom of Jesus is a rock of truth on which we can make decisions and commitments in life.

To read slowly the word of God in prayer each day is to place ourselves on that stable, solid foundation which will give us both insight and compassion in all we do in our lives.

And this is no new message – no modern day revelation – it’s what “having faith”  is really all about… and always has been…

Listening to God’s word – and then going out and putting it in to practise in our every-day – every-moment lives.

As the TV advert would say – Simples!!

*

And so this text challenges us – to build our lives and the firm foundation of the rock which cannot move – as the old hymn tells us.

It tells us that our lives should be grounded firm and deep in the Saviour’s love.

 *

But what does it mean to ‘build your life on the rock which is Jesus Christ ?’

It means reading his word – as found in the Bible…

It means spending time  in prayer each day…

It means praying for others – wanting the best for them…

It means embracing the concept that every person – even those we find difficult to get on with – are precious in God’s eyes…

It’s about realizing that we are not the only ones made in God’s own image.

It’s about forgiving the faults of others– easier said than done I know…

It’s about letting God guide your footsteps along life’s road…

It’s about putting your life and your faith in Him – even when there are clouds overhead and you can’t see or feel God is with you.

Remember the words of Jesus when He said “I will always be with you – aye – always!”…..

It’s about  showing your faith by the way you behave and conduct yourself in all you say and do.

It’s about being humble……

In essence ~

It means being obedient to God’s word.

Obedience is a word which isn’t fashionable these days.

obeying others isn’t so popular as it once was !

We see a lack of respect for authority in society – and we question rather than obey.

Consider this –

Living a good life is important –

Living a Godly life is imperative, essential – if  we are to pass through the very Gates of Heaven, there to rest in peace for all eternity in His glorious Kingdom.

*

I remember of an incident when I was in the Royal Navy – there was a case of a fellow sailor who was very severely punished for a breach of discipline.

So severe was the punishment that it was thought, by some, to be far too severe.

There was an enquiry – and an old sailor who had served for many years in the Royal Navy (“an old salt”) – said – that in his view, the punishment was not too severe.

He held that discipline was absolutely essential – because the purpose of discipline was to condition those in service to automatically and unquestioningly obey orders, and on such obedience their lives might well depend.

He told the Court of an incident when he was in a launch which was towing a much heavier vessel in a rough sea.

The vessel was attached to the launch by a wire cable.

Suddenly in the midst of the wind and the spray there came a single, insistent word of command from the officer in charge of the launch.

‘Hands, DOWN!’ he shouted – and immediately, the crew of the launch flung themselves down flat into the boat – not knowing why.

But, just at that moment, the ‘towing-cable’ snapped, and the broken ends of it whipped about like a enraged steel snake.

If anyone had been caught by it, they would certainly have been instantly killed.

But no-one was hurt – because the whole crew automatically obeyed.

If anyone had stopped to argue or to ask why, they would have met a certain death.

Obedience saved lives……………..

It is that kind of obedience that Jesus demands of us – if we are to be saved…

Jesus commands – we trust and obey…..

In the words of that old Hymn ~

“When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey”

Jesus claims that obedience to Him is the only sure foundation for life –

And it is His promise that the life which is founded on obedience to Him, built on a sure foundation – is safe – no matter what storms of life may come our way.

*

Is it going to be easy – no!

Is it going to be worth it – absolutely yes!!

So – let God take you by the hand

Let God take you by the heart

 

Let God lead you into His glorious kingdom – there to remain safe and secure….  In this life – and in the next.

That is His promise to us – you and I – when we live His way…

Will you commit yourself to following Him through your journey of life?

I hope and pray that you will – and I pray for each one of you – in the precious name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

And may God bless this preaching of His holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

 

Let us Pray ~

 

Lord, we give you our thanks for our families and our friends – for those who love us and care for us, for those who make life good.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray.

 

We are so blessed and we offer our gratitude, appreciation and our recognition of all that you do for us and our loved ones.

But Father, we know that there are many in this world, aye, too many, for whom life is not good – and it is these, our brothers and sisters who share this earth with us, that we bring to you in our prayers this morning.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those who have so little, while we have plenty.

 

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those who cry – while we are content.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those who do not have the most basic medical help, while we are blessed with the latest ‘high-tech’ advances that modern technology can offer.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those who are hungry and homeless while we have nice homes and our stomachs are full.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for the situation in CHINA –where many Christians are being ostracized, separated and  persecuted for their faith.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those who mourn the loss of a loved one, whose lives seem to be empty of all hope and feel that life no longer has meaning.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

We pray for those places in the world where greed and the need for personal gain is causing conflict – and we pray for those ordinary, everyday people who become embroiled in such conflict, whether on a national scale or a more domestic level – closer to home. Perhaps someone reading this Service this morning knows that pain – Lord, bless them.

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray

 

Be with us listening Lord – as we sit in silence for a few moments – each with our own thoughts – each with our own prayers – for those we know and love.

Be with us lord – in the peace of our silence –

….take time to think of someone you would like God to bless…….. whisper their name(s)…..God hears your words……… 

 

Loving Lord ~  Walk with them – we pray.

 

Walk with each one of us – we pray – For we ask it in the name of our dear Saviour – Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveller who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.

The hungry traveller saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation.

The traveller left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious.

Please share with me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone without hesitation.”

The wise woman laughed. “I have the love of Jesus in me – there is nothing more for me to share with you.

By returning the stone you have shown that your heart is open to His ways too – and that is more precious than anything in this world.”

 

A lovely story – which prompts us to ask –

Is my heart open to live His way ?

Is yours?…

I hope and pray that it is – and I pray for you in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

 

Remember –

Living a good life is important –

Living a Godly life is essential…

 

blessing

 

And now –

Go now, and live humbly – walk faithfully.

 

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you – be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

Amen.

 

Take care and may God Bless you

and those you love.

Keep safe.

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Look out for my ‘Midweek Meditation’

Posted Online each Wednesday Morning.

 

Have a good week.