Online Sunday Service – 30th August 2020

30th August 2020

Online Service

Miracles (continued)

Good morning all.

With all that is going on just now – I was reminded of a phrase from a horror film which warned “…just when you thought it was safe to go out!….”

If ever there was a saying that suited the moment – it is this one.  After months of lockdown we thought it was safe to venture out, but with so many ‘spikes’ ready to harm us, we have to rethink the wisdom of doing the everyday things we once took for granted.

As we continue our look at ‘Miracles in the Bible’ we are confronted by a number of  incidents and occurrences which disturb our comfort zone around the many things which we take for granted’ –

But before that- let us pray ~

PRAYER 

God the Lord, the King almighty –

we gather as your people to worship you,

to praise you for being here amongst us,

and to thank you that, for all your goodness and greatness, wherever we may be, you welcome us into your presence.

We come, in all our weakness and with all our failings, rejoicing that in Christ we have been cleansed and made new;

that, through him, you have set your mark upon us, and called us to be your people.

Receive what we are,

and direct what we shall be.

Forgive us when we fail you,

our lives betraying our calling and your love.

Forgive us when people look at us, and, instead of seeing something of you, see only ourselves.

Forgive us when the things we say and do obscure and deny the gospel, rather than proclaim its message to all.

Help us truly to be a holy people,

reflecting your love,

showing your compassion,

and responding to your guidance.

Renew and restore us through the love of Christ

and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.

Touch our hearts through this time together

and strengthen our faith,

so that in the week ahead we may live and work for you, to the glory of your holy name.

 

Listening Lord, we sit now for a few silent moments to clear our minds of the events of the past week  – we recall the ups and downs in our lives and bring all our worries and concerns to you in prayer – we bring too – our personal prayer of confession as we think of the things we have said, done and thought which have hurt or upset others – hurt and upset you………….. we are sorry Lord – and we pray for your forgiveness in Jesus’ name… so be with us now – as we silently pray – in the peace of our silence……………

 

Listening Lord – as undeserving as we are – we pray that you will forgive us and bless us with your mercy and your Grace – for we ask it in the name of your only son – our only hope – our dear sweet Jesus.

 

Listening Father – we know that you hear us when  we pray to you in faith – so hear us as we pray the prayer that Jesus taught His Disciple – 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.

Today we have 2 readings –

Psalm 77 : 13 – 14  &   Hebrews 2 : 1 – 4

Our first reading comes from the Old Testament – the lovely book of Psalms – and we hear the psalmist struggling as God’s seem to be silent in his hour of need – then he remembers the power of God’s amazing miracles…

And in our New Testament reading – we hear Paul writing to the Jewish converts to Christianity, who would be familiar with the Old Testament. He was reminding them that God sends us many ‘signs, wonders and various miracles’ – and emphasizing the importance of being watchful, vigilant and attentive – using their senses as well as their eyes and ears – to the wonders of God as seen and witnessed through His son – Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s read them now ~

Psalm 77 : 13 – 14    (New International Version – UK)

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.”

 

And

 

Hebrews 2 : 1 – 4   (New Century Version)

“Our Salvation Is Great.

So we must be more careful to follow what we were taught. Then we will not stray away from the truth. The teaching God spoke through angels was shown to be true, and anyone who did not follow it or obey it received the punishment that was earned. So surely we also will be punished if we ignore this great salvation. The Lord himself first told about this salvation, and those who heard him testified it was true. God also testified to the truth of the message by using wonders, great signs, many kinds of miracles, and by giving people gifts through the Holy Spirit, just as he wanted.”

Amen.

 

This is the Word of the Lord Thanks be to God

 

SERMON 

 

As my Irish Grandfather used to say before giving a speech or a Toast – “I’d like to say a few words before I speak!”

So before I start my Sermon,  I’ll begin by asking you the question – ‘do you believe in Miracles?’

Hold that thought for now.

As you may remember, we are currently looking at the ‘Miracles of the Bible’ and it’s not a subject that sits easily with many in the Reformed tradition.

Like “saints” and “spirituality” and “angels” – they’re areas which were largely and sadly – thrown out with the bath-water of the Reformation.

Many sought – and still do – seek to explain them away with other explanations. “of course it’s only figurative !” they say – or “well – it was only a symbolic feeding of 5.000 plus people – most of them would have produced food of their own as the fish and the loaves were being passed round!”

But I absolutely believe that God was performing miracles since the very creation – many of which are recorded in the Old Testament – and the miracles of Jesus as recorded for us in the New Testament.

It tells us that quite clearly in Scripture ~ “you are the God of Miracles” the Psalmist wrote around the year  2,000 B.C. – perhaps before.

As we heard in our N.T. for reading this morning,

which was written around 60 A.D. “ God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles..”

Thousands of years later then – people were still writing about the miracles that God performed !!

117 ‘miracles and wonders’ are to be found in the Old Testament  – with at least 46 miracles recorded in the N.T which either involved or were performed by Jesus – and a further 26 being recorded as being performed by his disciples.

189 in all !! – you can’t easily explain that away !”

[and here’s a conundrum for the numerologists among us – add 1 +8+ 9 = 18.  Add the 1 +8 = 9. Jesus died at age 33, mutiply 3 x 3 = 9  -there  are 3’s and 9’s to be found through Scripture, ‘if we have the eyes to see them’].

 

And we know that there were many more miracles other than these – for in Johns Gospel at chapter 20 verse 30 – it says – “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name.”

Miracles then – there’s plenty of them recorder for us – from the Creation in Genesis – right through to the book of Revelation – and that ‘new heaven and a new earth’ which waits for us – it’s miracle after miracle.

To mention just a few ~

From the earliest of times – there was the 10 plagues visited upon the Egyptians – you know – the locusts, the frogs and the boils and so on.

Then there was the falling of the walls of Jericho – when Joshua and the Israelites walked round the walls for 6 days and on the seventh, when they blew their trumpets – the wall fell down – pretty miraculous I’d say.

Then there was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – remember them ?

They refused to bow down to an image set up by King Nebu-chad-Nezzar.     As a punishment, they were thrown into a furnace and weren’t burned !

Then there was Daniel who was thrown into a den of lions and survived – through his immoveable faith in God.

And of course there’s a whole lot more.

But I suppose we should first determine just what a ‘Miracle’ actually is ~

Well – the dictionary says “a miracle is an event which is contrary to the laws of nature” – in other words – it’s something which – by all that we understand – just can’t happen – but it does !

But let’s just have look through some of these miracles and see what we can make of them ~

The first miracle performed by Jesus – according to the Bible – was changing of the Water into Wine at a friend’s wedding. And we read about that a couple of  weeks ago.

But we see signs of amazing miracles in the life of Jesus, even before that

They start with the miracle of conception – Mary’s ‘Immaculate’ conception of Jesus.   That was a wonderful miracle if ever there was !

And what about that star which led the Wise Men to Jesus ? Surely that was  – “an event which is contrary to the laws of nature” !!

Jesus was the very incarnation of God – that means He was the personification – the manifestation of God – He was God in living form – God come to earth – that’s why they initially called Him ‘Immanuel’ which means – ‘God is with us’ –  right here on earth –  that is some miracle too!!

And of course – the Resurrection – the ‘coming back to life of Jesus’ – the biggest miracle of all time !

Jesus grew up in a wee village – like many of us – He went into His father’s business  – a carpenter – and at age 30 he was Baptised by his cousin John – and the rest – as they say – is history.

He began preaching and healing – and we remember many of the more ‘well known’ miracles of Jesus – like the healing of the man who was lowered down through the roof by his friends.

And the time Jesus walked on water – or when He fed over 5,000 people from a wee boys piece box – with just of a couple of fish and a few bread rolls.

Or when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee  – or when He told the fishermen to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they  caught such a huge catch that they could hardly haul it on board.

“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1 : 37).

And we have heard of some of the lesser know miracles – such as the time Jesus cast out 1,000 demons from a man who called himself “Legion” – and the demons went into the pigs in the field who ran down the hill and into the sea and drowned.

Or when Jesus brought Jairus’s daughter back to life….

And what about the time Jesus healed the withered hand of a man who was brought to Him – as recorded in Luke chapter 6 at verse 6.

Or the time when Jesus healed the woman with a demon possessed spine ? – or the time He healed a Roman Centurion’s servant – and the many other smaller, lesser know – yet no less important miracles that seem to pass us by ?

Miracle after miracle after miracle.

But whether big or small – well known or not – all of these miracles have one thing in common – ie an element of Faith was required. If not in the person being healed – then by someone close to them.

In Mary’s case – she was a young girl of absolute faith,  and God blessed her.  He gave her the greatest responsibility of any human being – to carry His Son in her womb.

And those people who lowered their friend down in front of Jesus – did so in the belief that Jesus really could – and would – heal their friend – and He did.

So Faith in God’s ability to deliver – is essential.

And it’s easy for us to think that such miracles don’t happen anymore – a thing of the past – but if you think that – then you’d be wrong !     Miracles still happen – every single day.

Even in this high-tech, modern world – God still intervenes in our world – He still becomes involved in our everyday lives – in way which we find hard to comprehend.

Every day ! Miracles are happening all around us – all the time  – to people like you and I!

The problem may be that in our new found ‘sophistication’ we don’t expect to see them – and so we don’t…

We become blasé about God’s goodness – and take it all for granted.

How often do we actually thank God for our many blessings ?

He sends them everyday – but do we thank Him everyday ?

For me – the biggest miracle is the miracle of life itself.

And so the very fact that we’re here at all, is a miracle !

The fact that God loves us at all – is a miracle !

The fact that God cares for us, more especially in our dark and difficult times – is – yes you’ve guessed it – a miracle !

And the very fact that there is a great and awesome God who would care for each and every one of us – you and me –  is a miracle too !

I often wonder – why would He should care for me – what have I ever done to deserve such love ?? ~

“Such love, pure as the whitest snow
Such love, weeps for the shame I know
Such love, paying the debt I owe
O Jesus, such love”

…Perhaps you feel the same……….

*

So – when we take time – if we take time – to think about all that God has done for us – it can be pretty overwhelming.

At the beginning of this Sermon I asked you the question “Do you believe in Miracles?” – and in the light of all that you have read here today – I will ask you again – “do you believe in Miracles…do you?”

If you say ‘no’ then you must believe that God has His limits and is not “all powerful”.

However, if you say “yes” then you concur with the words in the Bible which say “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1 : 37 – 38).

Your choice, of course… but food for thought.

Now I’m going to ask you to sit for just a few moments and think about the many blessings that God has given you – and give Him thanks.

It might be for your family or a special friend – it might be for the support He has given you in your difficult times – it might be for the very joy of life itself, even with all it’s ups and downs.

God has blessed you with many miracles – He has blessed all of us in different ways – so let’s sit for a few moments and think about our many blessings. And then  say this a wee prayer ~ ……………………

Pray ~

‘Lord as we recall the many blessings and miracles in our lives – we give you our grateful thanks for them.

We give you thanks too – that we can know your goodness and can confidently stand on the many wonderful promises that you make to us.

We are so blessed lord – thank you so, so much. Amen.’

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

If you are sitting with others beside or near you why not turn to them and simply  say – “you are one of God’s wonderful miracles” – and maybe they will reply – “and so are you !”

And if you are on your own as you read this – say to yourself –

“i am one of God’s miracles!” – and so you are!!

Let us Pray ~

 

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

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

We are so blessed and we offer our gratitude, appreciation and 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 LordWalk with them – we pray

We pray for those who struggle to exist, while we have plenty.

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

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

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

We pray for those who have the most basic medical help, while we are blessed with the latest ‘high-tech’ advances that modern technology can offer.

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

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

Loving LordWalk 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 LordWalk 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 LordWalk 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 pray for those you know who need a prayer at this time – and for your family and friends……

Walk with each one of us –

For  we pray in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

I recently read a lovely story of a small mid-west American town – in which farming was the only means of income – and there had been the longest drought anyone could remember.

As you can imagine, things were pretty bad – no crops – no income – no food on the table.

The local Minister called a meeting of the locals to come along and pray for rain.

There was a tremendous turn out. Just about everyone in the area turned up and a number of prayers were said.

But as someone was praying – the Minister looked out of the corner of his eye and saw the cutest little girl – with curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes – praying in the scorching sunshine – with all her might – and beside her was a little red umbrella !! J

Of all those present – only she actually expected something to happen !!  And she had come prepared !!

It’s a lesson in humility – and a lesson in faith !

That little girl was praying for a miracle – and fully expected God to deliver !!

So much so that she brought her umbrella for the journey home !

So here’s a thought ~

When we ask God for something – when we pray for a miracle – do we really – deep down in our hearts believe it will happen ??

Perhaps it’s only when we – like that wee girl – have complete and absolute faith in God – that amazing things will begin to happen !

Mmmmmm!!! Now that is a thought!!??

Amen.

BLESSING

May the God of Grace breathe

Health into your body,

Love into your heart,

Peace into your mind,

and Joy into your spirit.

So let us go now,

With our lives filled to overflowing, and be poured out in His service –

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

 

AMEN.

*

Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

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Keep safe

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which

is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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Some of you will know that I am currently serving

as Locum  in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

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And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of  personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.

All welcome.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10