Sermon Outlines

Sunday 12th June We have a great example in the book of Judges chapter 6 of a man used by God.  7 When the Israelites cried m  to the LORD because of Midian,  8 he sent them a prophet, n  who said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, o  out of the land of slavery. p   9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. q  I drove them from before you and gave you their land. r   10 I said to you, ‘I am the LORD your God; do not worship s  the gods of the Amorites, t  in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.” 12 When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, “The LORD is with you, b  mighty warrior. c  ”  13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders d  that our fathers told e  us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned f  us and put us into the hand of Midian.”  14 The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have g  and save h  Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

Gideon was reluctant, but the Lord revealed to him in powerful ways and promises a victory over the oppressor. Vs 11 "Then the angel of the Lord came and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah and his son Gideon was threshing wheat from the Midianites." 

Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house?" I. Why did God chose Gideon to guide him for sure but also because: 1. Gideon was brave: The text above shows a determined young man, despite being at a disadvantage before the enemy. During the night, he worked with a challenge to tend the harvest and to preserve it, so as not to let it fall into the hands of the Midianites. He was not sleeping like many others were at that time.

2. He was also a Working man. To be found at night, taking care of your wheat, prepared to fight watching for the enemy as they could appear at any time, he really was a man of struggles and work.

3. Humility. Judges 6:15 "And he said, Oh my Lord, how can I save Israel Behold my family is the weakest.

He feels very small. Before the great responsibility entrusted to him;  he thought he was unable to accomplish such a feat, this pleased the Lord, for the salvation of the people was not dependent on the man, but the Lord. 

Because it would give another lesson to his people, using the smallest, the poorest, the weakest, II Corinthians 12:9 God's power is made perfect in weakness. 

4. Gideon was sensible. Judges 6:17.  Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign l  that it is really you talking to me.  18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.” And the LORD said, “I will wait until you return.”  Gideon now asks for a confirmation of all the revelations that have been delivered, but the moment that he brought the offerings to present to God the Angel (The Lord Jesus) reveals this, With the tip of the staff q  that was in his hand, the angel of the LORD touched the meat and the unleavened bread. r  Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the LORD disappeared.

"In the moments of worship, the Lord reveals Himself to us wonderfully when we bring our offerings the moment we are at his feet to worship him for any reason, we receive the greatest blessing from God.


II. The preparation for the work begins. Destroy the altar of Baal Judges 6:25 - That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. 30 Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole 31 y  beside it.  26 Then build a proper kind of 32 altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second 33 bull as a burnt offering. z  ”

The Lord begins asking Gideon to remove the abomination which was among the people. The Lord is calling to first remove the detestable things of your life, then cover it with power; This first fight he faces because his father followed Baal, but here was the first victory, so we have decided to remove the events of oppression, and also the strange god, sometimes people fall because they love the strange gods, but here the Lord marks our first victory.


2. Build a new altar Judges 6:26 -.. "And build the Lord thy God, an altar on top of this stronghold ... and you shall offer a holocaust" The construction of the altar restores the worship service to the Lord when we come to Lord and leave the world. He demands that we re-establish this altar that is within us, that is continuous indwelling of the Holy Spirit, this also means new birth, new life in the presence of the Lord.

II. Once again God confirms the work of Gideon Judges 6:36 -. 40. Given the increased responsibility and fearful by his inexperience, of what could happen if he failed, he decides to ask God once again to confirm what the Lord had revealed.  “If you will save o  Israel by my hand as you have promised—  37 look, I will place a wool fleece p  on the threshing floor. q  If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know r  that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.”  38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

This is a lesson of caution, here because Gideon wanted to perform the Work of the Lord in the way God had commanded, because he did not want to fail or miss something, because he knew that if he failed even in the minimum detail it could be fatal. The Lord teaches us to prepare and to be daring at that which He tells us to do, sometimes we need to pray more, fast more, get the details right, if we want to be sure that the victory is certain.

IV. Gideon dealing with the people The Lord dealt directly with Gideon, now comes another challenge: dealing with people. Judges 6:35 - He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, l  Zebulun and Naphtali, m  so that they too went up to meet them. n  

1. The call of the people.  The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength z  has saved her,  3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead. a  ’ ” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 2. Presentation of the people: 4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many b  men. Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.

Here the Lord would show Gideon with whom he could go into battle with. God would prove them to descend to the waters. And so it happened: three hundred men drank water leading a hand to mouth, and the Lord said, By the three hundred men I will give you the Midianites into thine hand.  The important detail of this proves that the Lord has examined the people, God shows that he wanted a vigilante army, and not distracted as those who went down to lick the waters.  But its a great revelation for us today, That is that the Lord tests His servants in the waters of the Spirit ie, those who search for the Lord in prayer, fasting, in the early mornings, and it is when we are approved, the Lord separates us to fight for this work. It is in this work we are involved in today, we cannot count on crowds, economic or financial powers, but with a faithful remnant, a small group, willing to do the Lord's will we will conquer Portslade.

V. Gideon fears facing the enemy. Gideon was afraid now, because even with 32,000 men the battle would be difficult., With 300 it would be impossible. But the victory was not with the men of Gideon but in the Lord. 

Man himself has nothing they can do against the enemy, but the blood of Jesus gives us the victory, but only if they obey the Lord.

VI. The courage of Gideon. Judges 7:9 "And it came to pass that night, the Lord said unto him, Arise and go down to the camp ..." The Lord gives a final confirmation when Gideon sends him down to the enemy's camp. On his return he  heard an account of a mans dream.

Judges 7:13-14 - "...  “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.” 14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, k  the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”

 

1.Knowing the dream, Gideon worshiped the LORD, and he understood that victory would not be his or his men, but the Lord.2. The certainty of victory had returned to him now he was certain that the Lord would give them the victory,

In our struggles we have nothing to fear, for the bread of barley, ie the Lord Jesus fights for us and destroys the enemy giving us victory. 3. Gideon then enters the battle secures the battle with  the following weapons:  16 Dividing the three hundred men n  into three companies, o  he placed trumpets p  and empty jars q  in the hands of all of them, with torches r  inside. 17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do.  18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, s  then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the LORD and for Gideon.’ ”

Strange these weapons, how could he beat a powerful, well-armed, army skilful in battle, only with those apparently harmless weapons? It would be counterproductive, but the Lord had said so, and so Gideon obeyed.

What are these weapons? The Horn – Glorification. Empty jars -. man stripped of all his vanity, pride, self esteem, etc.. Torches lit - power of the Spirit. Final victory. Division of men into three groups. Waiting for right time of the attack. Judges 7:19-20 -  Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars t  that were in their hands.  20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches u  in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword v  for the LORD and for Gideon!”  21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled. w  

When the pitchers that hid the torches, were broken, and there suddenly appeared a large number of torches, and the sound of the horns, the enemy panicked and was defeated.

Conclusion: The pitcher hid a lighted torch, which would only appear after being broken.The power of the Holy Spirit only appears when man is broken also, in the presence of the Lord he humbles himself so that the Lord's light may shine. It is this position that the Lord blesses us.

God wants these type of people in our day like the servants, like Gideon, to also face a big challenge: to continue the fight against the world, sin, the flesh, but the Lord will make us victorious also, not by our might, nor by our abilities, but by the blood the Lord Jesus. Amen

Portslade Belongs to Jesus Christ.

Sunday 6th June On Pentecost Sunday I was in the middle of a serires of messages on Ephesians but today taking part in the Lords Table I want to look at THE PENTECOSTAL POWER - At 1.8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; o  and you will be my witnesses p  in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, q  and to the ends of the earth.” r  

In our church every time we meet we have a pentecost experience because we are in the presence of God but it would be good to remind ourselves about being led by the Holy Spirit.In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.” Acts 2.17

The Character of this Power is that we recieve it from God and its the Power to witness and the Power to service.

The source of power. The Holy Spirit. Acts 1: 8. The very Spirit of God testifies of the Word.

The human position of power. The disciples were completely surrendered to Christ. They were obedient. Acts 1: 4;  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. j  

Chapter 2:1  When the day of Pentecost t  came, they were all together u  in one place, They recognized their need as a group. Acts 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer,

There was an intense desire among the disciples to seek Gods will. For ten days they focused their thinking and prayer on needing Jesus. They prayed fervently. Acts 1:14; Luke 11:13) We need to get back to being a people of prayer also if we want to see pentecostal revival in our land.

They prayed and waited. 1 John 5: 14-15 This is the confidence k  we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. l   15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know m  that we have what we asked of him. n  

The sign of power. They spoke in the power of the Spirit. (Acts 2: 4a) as the Spirit enabled them they abandon their own strength and wisdom and depend completly on God, They testified of God's wonderful working. Everything that was of self was abandoned the "I" was forgotten. Their focus was on God.

They preached Christ. Acts 2: 22 “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth q  was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, r  which God did among you through him, s  as you yourselves know.  23 This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; t  and you, with the help of wicked men, 9 put him to death by nailing him to the cross. u   24 But God raised him from the dead, v  freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

The Result. The crowd were amazed, even perplexed. Acts 2: 6-7,12 we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

2. Some scoffed. Acts 2:13 13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.

“Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.  15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! i   16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. j  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, k your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

3. Many were affected. Acts 2:37  “Brothers, what shall we do?” that is why true conviction is needed today. Genuine conversion. Acts 2: 41-42 “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number w  that day. 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching x  and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread y  and to prayer

You and I and Portslade Baptist Church can have the same power and the same results will happen, if we follow the same convictions. As Hebrews 13: 8; Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. x

The powerful advances of the primitive church: Acts 1.8 The church grew and advanced look and read each chapter of the book of Acts because it marks their advances being filled with the Holy Spirit and power.

We as a church will advance also, 2 Ch 7:14. if my people, who are called by my name, n  will humble o  themselves and pray and seek my face p  and turn q  from their wicked ways, then will I hear r  from heaven and will forgive s  their sin and will heal t  their land.  15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. u   16 I have chosen v  and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there

On the day of Pentecost: almost 3,000 were saved (Acts 2:41,42). After the lame man was healed at the door of the beautiful temple, the number grew to almost 5,000 (At 4.4). And the crowd multiplied and many who believed in the Lord men and women and grew more and more (Ac 5.14).

The number of disciples also grew ...; and the word of God grew and in Jerusalem the number of the disciples multiplied (Ac 6.1,7). The multiplication of the church in the geographical sense, Judea, Galilee, Samaria, the secret is going into the wole world (Ac 9.31). The multiplication of a local fellowship is to be steadfast in the teaching of the Bible and in prayer.

The church grew through persecution and even before this pandemic we have faced many forms of persecution, we have also been in another  type of persecution with this virus not being able to meet together, but Pentecost Power we see an example of genuine faith, here we see the change and growth that many churches desire, the more the church was persecuted the more it grew.  

Many believe that some christians today and even before the virus were accommodated in their faith. But learning through this coronavirus the world has been persecuted But (Acts 16: 5). Tells us that the churches were strengthened  in the faith and grew daily in numbers. z  

Here we have the promise of church growth and it will be fulfilled in our church and we are growing remember it is not the lack of power? We will grow through being united and being obedient then we will have growth.

I believe we are going to see our church grow as we have all been using this time of isolation to pray and are looking forward as the Body of Christ to being all together again as a Church.

30/04/2021 “ARE YOU DRIFTING?” During this lockdown and still with many churches closed someone asked me if I thought people were drifting away from the church, as many people even though they have had their injections are finding it difficult to come to church. We are aware some have ongoing health cares and others are frail but we are praying for you all.

I read a article about  “Two young men were fishing above a low dam on a river near where they lived.  As they were concentrating on catching fish, they were unaware that they had drifted until they were not far from the water flowing over the dam. When they realized their situation, the current near the dam had become too powerful for them to keep their boat from going over.  Below the dam the water was gushing with really strong force over great boulders and through crevices in the rocks. Caught by the swirling waters under the rocks, they never came to the surface.  After days of non stop searching, the divers finally found one body, and then, two or three days later, the other.”

 

2. Remember the danger of drifting is not limited to the physical realm... In Hebrews 2:1, we find a warning against drifting it says; We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 

Sadly, it is not uncommon for Christians to drift toward Destruction! I have to ask you, “Are You Drifting?” it’s a fair question but could I be so bold to ask, would you know it if you were drifting?

I hope that listening to my messge today we can become aware of the danger of drifting away from the Lord.

I. THINGS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT DRIFTING

A. DRIFTING REQUIRES NO EFFORT...

Just stop rowing or batteling against the wind, and you will begin to drift. The same is true for the Christian, which is why we are told: We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”

B. DRIFTING IS A PROCESS WE MAY NOT BE AWARE OF.

1. It is possible to drift and be unaware. In a boat for example, the undercurrents are often unnoticeable from the surface, but you know when they have you in their grasp.

b. In a plane, the wind or gravitational forces move the plane without you realizing it, except when you are in turbulence.

2. The same is true in the spiritual realm. Many individual Christians have slowly drifted away from Christ and they do not know it. Many churches have gradually drifted into error and confusion only one day to find them selves far removed from the teaching of Holy Scriptures.

C. WE NEVER DRIFT UPSTREAM OR AGAINST THE TIDE...

1. Unfaithfulness to the Lord is like rowing upstream, The Bible tells us that we must constantly be “adding to your faith, goodness and knowledge;...” 2 Peter 1:5

You must continue to grow - 2 Pe 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever!

The moment you stop growing, you start going backward or downward.(Shrink with age)

D. WHEN DRIFTING THE SPEED DOWNSTREAM INCREASES...

1. The dangers increase with the speed by which we drift.

a. When we can hear the noise of the waterfall, it is already too late, perhaps it is too late for you?

b. Any sailor will tell you that when we lose sight of land, it is even more difficult to discern that we are drifting.

2. As we move farther and farther from the Lord, we care less and less about what we do or what we say.

E. DRIFTING IS DANGEROUS TO OTHERS...A ship, just drifting, is a hazard to all other vessels at sea

Parents who are just drifting, will soon loose possible every opportunities to teach their children - Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

3. Many are tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. Which we looked at in Ephesians 4:14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

F. DRIFTING ENDS IN SHIPWRECK...

1. A boat adrift will eventually crash on the rocks or go over the falls. For those who drift spiritually through their own neglect, there shall be no escape from a just punishment -

Hebrews 2:1-3 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.

Friends the danger of drifting is real, or there would be no need for the Bible to warn you against it.  So again I ask, “Are You Drifting?”  To help answer the question, here are some

II. COMMON SIGNS OF DRIFTING

A. DIMINISHING DESIRE TO STUDY GOD’S WORD AND PRAY...

1. The Bible is a unique book - a source of information not found anywhere else

a. Without God’s revelation, how could we truly know our origin, our purpose, or destiny?

b. It tells us of sin’s dreadful consequences, and how God saves us from sin

c. It provides direction for living happy, useful lives Psalm 1:1-3 says that when one loses their desire to study God’s word, they are drifting!

2. Prayer is a wonderful blessing - a way that we have to communicate with our God! Jesus, who loved His Father, often prayed - Mk 1:35; 6:46

b. He expressed concern that His disciples not grow weary to pray - Luke 18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

When a Christian prays less and less, he is drifting more and more!

B. DIMINISHING DESIRE TO BE WITH GOD’S PEOPLE

1. This includes attending services to worship God. How many times have we heard its been so long since I hve been to church. One should always have the attitude of the Psalmist 122:1"I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD." (But it does not say go only once! or when we want to!)

b. If we no longer rejoice in the worship of God in the presence of believers I believe that we are drifting!

2. Fellowship with God’s people remember extends beyond the services of the church

a. We are to be concerned with edifying one another - Ro 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.This edification should occur even daily - He 3:13

c. For the right kind of friendship strengthens us, while the wrong kind leads us to sin - 1 Co 15:33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."

When a Christian prefers the companionship of people of the world, rather than fellow Christians, he is drifting toward the rocks of spiritual destruction!

C. DIMINISHING DESIRE TO SHARE THE GOSPEL...

1. When one obeys the gospel, he knows God has blotted out his sins, made him a new creature in Christ, and he wants to tell the world about Jesus - cf. Ac 8:4; 1 Th 1:8. When a Christian no longer has the desire to take the message of salvation to others, he is drifting! How many churches have been drifting for years and do not know it

D. INCREASING DESIRE FOR THE THINGS OF THE WORLD...

Parents of one young man were excited beyond measure over a worldly honor he had received.

They had never demonstrated such emotion over spiritual matters NEVER EVEN WENT TO HIS BAPTISM.

With the passing time, the entire family had drifted beyond the point of no return. How many young people who were on fire for Jesus have left the church because they have no support or help during dificult times.

The apostle John warns us against the love of the world and the things in the world - 1 Jn 2:15-17

a. Paul described some who were “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God” - 2 Ti 3:4

b. If we reach the point when we find more pleasure in some worldly activity than meeting with others to worship God, we definitely are spiritually adrift!

For me these are some of the signs of drifting away from God.  If we are to remain close to God, it will not be easy. 

But let me share some:

III. REMEDIES AGAINST DRIFTING

A. KEEP ROWING...

1. Spiritually speaking, this involves diligence - 2 Pe 1:5,10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,

2. It also means to keep abounding in our Christian graces - cf. 2 Pe 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. There is no place for “retirement” in living the life of a Christian! A sense of we have made it.

B. WATCH OUT FOR UNDERCURRENTS...

1. We must always be on guard for the undercurrent of temptation

2. For we have a fleshly nature which wages war against the soul. 1 Pe 2:11  Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 

C. EXPECT TO GO AGAINST THE TIDE...

1. There are many tides to sweep us away

a. Popularity, peer pressure, the praise of others

b. Modernism, scepticism, humanism

c. Denominationalism - false doctrines of all kinds

d. Liberalism and worldliness in the church - greatest enemies of the church in our lifetime we will never have the victory or go forward until we get the world out of our churches and the churches into the world.

D. WE MUST HAVE STRONG ANCHORAGE... Are we Rooted and grounded in Christ - Co 2:6-7 are our minds anchored to the truth - Ep 4:14-15 do we still posses an unshakable hope - cf. He 6:18-19. That is why we are rooted and grounded in the love of Christ - Ep 3:16-18 

CONCLUSION

1. Friends are you drifting?

a. The danger is real, we would be foolish to say otherwise

b. Many have drifted away from the Lord, and it would be arrogant to say it could not happen to us!

2. Are there signs of drifting in your life? As a pastor I would ask that you honestly ask yourself:

a. Is my desire to study God’s word and pray diminishing?

b. Is my desire to be with God’s people not what it has been in the past?

c. Have I lost my desire to save those who are lost?

d. Am I too much enamoured or involved by things of the world?

If we are in any way then we must confess that we are drifting, then may we encourage one another to give earnest heed as warned by the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 2 vs 1 “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him..”

Our Salvation in Christ is simply too great for us to neglect!

23/04/2021 I want to finish this months thinking about unity.We remember we all fly under the banner of BUGB  “Baptist Together” and even though we are an individual congregation we are as a Baptist Church all joined together, we are joined with the BMS in our World Mission Activates but today their is nowhere better to start thinking about unity than Ephesians 4:1-16 which talks about Unity in the Church.

 

Ephesians 4:1-16 Unity in the Church. ¶ As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service. So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

 

The first three chapters consist of several important doctrinal truths. Which we have considered ut we remember chapter four, where we have the most weighty and serious exhortations that can be given.

Remember friends the Grace of God is necessary to keep the unity of the body. We saw how Paul explains these four areas that we need to work on to ensure this unity is effective, and true.

1.     Unity through our life. Vs 1-3.

2.     Unity through what we believe. Vs 4-6..

3.     Unity through our gifts. Vs 7-12 Which we looked at last time

4.     Unity through our growth. Vs 13-16 Today

Remember we saw that the Church of Jesus Christ grows as a unified body through its Life, its Beliefs and through His Gifts. To finish my thoughts on Unity I want us to look today at unity through our Growth.

If asked to summarize Ephesians 4. It has to be with the words.

·         IN Christ. Made alive IN Christ. One IN Christ. No barriers IN Christ

·         We should seek to be filled with the wisdom of God.

·         Our prayer is surely that we are filled with the fullness if God.

·         Its Paul’s plea for us today that we seek unity through our Life, our Belief, our gifts and our growth.

Vs 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

·         Infants – Baby Believers – remember a baby contest - my mum entered me for one –beautiful baby - everybody loves a baby – I could not enter now though!

·         We grow up!

·         Mother here will tell you though that any problem with the growth of a child gives concern.

·         We worry that it grows correctly – everything is ok

·         The word used here is NEPIOS i.e. children not capable of eating solid food or speaking properly.

Paul's Definition of NEPIOS. Vs 14

Convictions are held very lightly. Tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching.

·         Easily swayed by new fads.

·         Like a child goes from one toy to another.

·         Children have a short attention span.

Look at the ease at which they can be deceived.

·         By the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

·         Two Greek words here PLANE = Wandering and PLANOS meaning deceiver.

·         Two examples here and they are not aimed at people here.

·         In Brazil I was asked to preach at another church. A young new Christian came to me and pleaded with me Pastor please talk to this older mature Christian for me because this person has just finished pointing out all the bad points of our pastor, why is she telling me a new Christian these things?

·         In another Church in Scotland this woman came to me and was very complementary to my preaching and of me as a person. She later told me she only visited tonight because her own pastor was not preaching – she did not like him – she complained about his preaching – in fact she could not look at him and she came home from church always distressed.

·         Satan was deceiving her – Satan used her immaturity to look at the man and not look at Jesus. Do not let this happen here, look to Jesus.

Paul is saying here grow up! Come into the fullness of Christ.

·         Be childlike – not childish.

·         Remember Jesus appreciated the insight of children he quoted Psalm 8:2 From the lips of children, (NEPIOS) and infants you have ordained praise.

·         Through childlike faith, the simplest of Christians receive spiritual revelation, which are often missed by more complex minds.

·         Jesus praised his Father for hiding the truth from the wise but showing it to babes. (NEPIOS)

However Baby believers can have a negative side 1 Corinthians 3:1-7 (read)

·         Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe--as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

·         Today people have superficial tastes – they want milk not meat.

·         They are still attached to the world – In its Ways and practices.

·         Look at Temper – quarreling & jealously in some of our Churches today.

·         Its like Following the leader – The Figurehead rather than Christ.

·         Friends Be childlike not childish.

Paul says here. Grow up, grow into Christ, into His body the Church taking your place, doing your part, using your gifts.

Where is your place? What is your part? Brothers and Sisters Ask God HE will tell you!

Work for unity, don’t let Satan destroy Our Unity. Our Life, Our Beliefs, or Our Gifts, but let us use them for the growth of the church of Jesus Christ and for our own Spiritual Growth.

If Portslade Baptist Church is to survive another 5 year’s or 10 years or until the Lord's Return, then I believe that we need to let go and let God united us.

·         Remember United we stand divided we fall.

An old quotation that has helped me is from Mrs. CE Cowan from her Book of daily devotions "Streams in the Desert" she wrote:

Remember we may wait till Jesus explains, because we know that Jesus reigns.

May he Reign and Unite our hearts forever. Amen.

16/04/2021This month we are thinking about unity. BUGB has the banner “Baptist Together” and even though we are an individual congregation we are as a Baptist Church all joined together, we are joined with the BMS in our World Mission Activates but today their is nowhere better to start thinking about unity than Ephesians 4:1-16 which talks about Unity in the Church.

 Ephesians 4:1-16 Unity in the Church. ¶ As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service. So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The first three chapters we remember consist of several important doctrinal truths. Here in chapter four, we have the most weighty and serious exhortations that can be given to Christians to unite.

Remember the Grace of God is necessary to keep the unity of the body. We are looking at how Paul explains these four areas that God's people need to work on to ensure this unity is effective and true.

1.     Unity through our life. Vs 1-3.

2.     Unity through what we believe. Vs 4-6. Which we looked at last time. Lets look at now.

3.     Unity through our gifts. Vs 7-12

4.     Unity through our growth. Vs 13-16.

Ephesians 4:7-12. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service. So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

From Scripture, we have three main passage concerning gifts.

In Romans 12:3-8 (Gifts of God)

·         We are all born with certain natural gifts – he we see that a Christian is born again with Spiritual Gifts.

·         What gifts do you have? ( read list)

(Read) 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 measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11  (Gifts of the Spirit)

·         These gifts are available for the common good. But there are gifts we are encouraged to also seek.

(Read) There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.  Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.   All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.

Ephesians 4:7-13 (Gifts of the Spirit)

Gifted people are given to the church. I want us all to remember the gifts we have, both natural and spiritual. But also please remember the Gifts that we have to seek for, and then please realize the gifted people that normal Christians often become, because of the fact that we have been Born Again.

·         Gifts are recognized and developed through prayer and a spiritual life, but they also become aware through discernment of the Body i.e. His People know what gifts we have.

·         Gifted people in Church praying in tongues etc yet in the home they blaspheme God with the same tongue. They are soon found out.

 We should always seek to develop our Christian life. And its through this constant development that you and I will serve Christ through His Body the Local Church here in Portslade or wherever the Lord takes us.

 ·         Always remember seek the best spiritual gifts that will supplement and express the gifts that you already have.

 ·         I can think of nothing better as a Pastor, than to think of the potential of what a new Christian can become within the Body of Jesus.

·         The same can be said for older Christians who are still developing their gifts.

 ·         Remember God calls, He provides and He empowers the believer.

·         BUT. God also gives him to the Church to serve and maintain Unity.

 I would be lacking in my ministry if we did not look at what Practical examples we can have here to follow:

 Lets say for example that you as a believer discover that you have a gift from Romans 12, such as teaching or Stimulating, you would then need to seek from 1 Corinthians 12 Wisdom and Knowledge to compliment this gift. Then from Ephesians 4 we see that you can take your place in the Body the Church as a teacher.

 ·         Today we see from our passage in Ephesians 4 that God’s Gifts are to his church, for Unity/ Service/ and for growing in Maturity.

·         Apostle – Prophet – Pastor – Evangelist – Pastor – Teacher.

We need to understand here though the difference between – Office – and Gift.

·         An Apostle for example is one sent forth.

·         Christ was an Apostle, and his disciples were Apostles, Paul was an Apostle to the Gentiles. Remember we had 12 Apostles therefore our foundation is without question Christ and the Apostles teaching. Through Holy Scripture.

·         The Office – Gifts – Evidence. Anyone God sends out or the church sends out is today called an Apostle = Missionary.

·         A Prophet.

·         Originally inspired by the Holy Spirit.

·         For Encouragement, correction, foretelling the future.

·         Today it could be accepted as someone Forth telling of the Word of God. An example would be applying the Word of God in a given situation.

·         An Evangelist.

·         The ability to tell others and convince them of the truth of the Gospel.

·         Pastor.

·         Shepherd, to care, to protect, to support, to nurture, to feed and to flock.

·         Teacher.

·         To open up and explain the Scriptures, for the general well being of the body.

People of old saw that the Minister was all of these, Apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and some quite possibly were, but not all.

But Friends in conclusion we can see that the Church of Jesus Christ grows as a unified body through its Life, its Beliefs and through His Gifts. Next time I want to look at Unity in Growth.

09/04/2021This month we are thinking about unity. BUGB has the banner “Baptist Together” and even though we are an individual congregation we are as a Baptist Church all joined together, we are joined with the BMS in our World Mission Activates but today their is nowhere better to start thinking about unity than Ephesians 4:1-16 which talks about Unity in the Church.

Ephesians 4:1-16 Unity in the Church. ¶ As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service. So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

 The first three chapters consist of several important doctrinal truths. We enter now on chapter four, in which we have the most weighty and serious exhortations that can be given to us as the body of Christ.

 Remember friends the Grace of God is necessary to keep the unity of the body. We see how Paul explains of four areas that we need to work on to ensure this unity is effective, true and sincere.

 1.     Unity through our life. Vs 1-3. Which we looked at last time. Today lets look at,

2.     Unity through what we believe. Vs 4-6

3.     Unity through our gifts. Vs 7-12

4.     Unity through our growth. Vs 13-16

 Ephesians 4:4-6 says” There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

 I could speak on each of these points, but today I want to continue with my theme of unity.

 Unity is big business today. In Geneva World Council Churches keeping minutes and losing hours. Baptist Union Assembly in Blackpool. The BMS rally had invited Cardinal Hume to speak, and there had been terrible protests outside because of this catholic Bishop speaking at an Evangelical rally. It seemed that The Bishop had been asked to by the BMS to intervene in some crisis situation abroad and they asked him if he could intervene, if so it would help save these people and he did. He had a marvellous effect on the government and this was the BMS way of saying thank you. By addressing the Assembly.

 A Lecturer at the Faith Mission College (Ken Buchanan) said that any Doctrine that shackles you from winning souls should be thrown away.

I remember a brethren man and his Timothy, this man was so angry and so one sided in his thinking and theology, that it was causing a harmful situation to arise for the student, thankfully by the Grace of God Timothy came through it, but we need to be careful. (Nothing of self.)

Brother’s in Christ. We cannot have unity at any cost though. It may be politically correct to unite with others today BUT is it Spiritually correct.

In the Old Testament we had two enemies – murder – mixture – If we cannot kill them, then we will bread them out. 

The New Testament we have leaven and the New Wine. A little leaven spoils the whole loaf, and new wine in old wineskins.      

 Paul gives seven basic realities that unite every true believer. There is one Body and one Spirit, one Hope, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism; one God.

 I would like with the Lords permission to change these in order to help me and us picture these truths.

 One Father, One Lord, One Spirit, One Body, One faith, One Hope, One Baptism.

 The Trinity, Father - Son – Spirit.

 ·         One Father, not my father, He is more than a creator, he is a King, and Judge. He is also a loving Father. It is here we have Unity, the oneness of believers is that we are part of the family of God.

·         One Lord, The Lordship of Christ is the first step in unity. Can two believers claim to obey the same Lord and not walk in unity.

·         One Spirit, the same Holy Spirit indwells every believer. 1 Corinthians 12:13 says “ For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body”

·         The word used here is breath, and without breath the body is dead.

 The Church the body of Christ.

 ·         Christ is still alive and working on earth through his earthly Church.

·         With every believer having the responsibility to keep the unity of the body. By:

 One Hope, one Faith, one Baptism.

 ·         One Hope. The Second Coming of Christ is our hope and our certainty, we shall all see this Glory and perfection only in Christ.

·         We will have the same resurrection from the dead.

·         God will perfect what he has started in us.

·         God will finish what he has planned for us.

·         We know that we will be together for all eternity.

·         So we had better start practicing this unity here and now.

 ·         One Faith. The Body of fundamental truth which all Christians hold to.

·         To depart from this is to break the unity, to break the faith.

·         The faith is that we every one of us accept the Lordship of Christ Jesus.

 ·         One Baptism. A public confession of faith in Christ Jesus that unites us to this local Church.

·         Water baptism – I am a true Baptist – but remember we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

·         We are never commanded to be baptized.

·         Representatives of the Body the Church baptize with water, but only the Holy Spirit of God can baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

 We should express freely our feelings about. What Unity means to us as individuals and as a congregation.

 Speaks about Our Saviour. 

About God THE FATHER.

Our LORD Jesus Christ.

God’s  HOLY SPIRIT. 

His BODY OR CHURCH

Our HOPE our FAITH our BAPTISM

 5.     Next week lets look at Unity through our gifts. Vs 7-12

 This month I am thinking about unity. BUGB has the banner “Baptist Together” and even though we are an individual congregation we are as a Baptist Church all joined together, by faith in the same Lord,  we are joined with the BMS in our World Mission Activates but today their is nowhere better to start thinking about unity than Ephesians 4:1-16 which talks about Unity in the Church.

 The first three chapters consist of several important doctrinal truths, which as Baptist we hold dear, but I want us to look at chapter four, over my next few sermons. In which we will see that we have the weightiest and serious exhortations that can be given to us as Gods people to strive for Unity of the Body of Christ.

 ¶ As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called - one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why God says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men. What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions?  He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service. So that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

 Vs 1-3 Says that we should walk in the wealth of our calling, which is a worthy life.

Vs 4-6 talks again about our walk with one Lord, one faith, and one baptism;

 Here we have a Principle to Practice, and a Doctrine to Live by.

·         God has made provision for us to live by obedience to His Word. He also shows us how we can work together in unity, and most importantly help us to grow in maturity and in Love.

 Unity we must remember depends on the Grace of God. Uniformity however is fitting a set of rules and practices.

 Ephesians 3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles. Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, Paul is a prisoner and here he brings every experience into subjection to Christ. He urges us through his example, his teaching, his letters and his prayers.

 He says live, a life worthy of your calling. It should be a planned life, not haphazard or careless. It should be a deliberate life, inside out not outside in, it should be a chosen life, remember he say’s: “ Choose this day whom you will serve”.

 Friends the Grace of God is necessary to keep the unity of the body. Paul explains four areas that we need to work on to ensure this unity is effective, and true. It is these thoughts that I want us to look at.

 1.     Unity through our life. Vs 1-3

2.     Unity through what we believe. Vs 4-6

3.     Unity through our gifts. Vs 7-12

4.     Unity through our growth. Vs 13-16

 First of all we have; Unity through our life.

 In Galatians 5:22 remember Paul mentions nine elements of the fruit of the Spirit.

·         But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Five fruits of the Spirit are used here to indicate the kind of life we need to live. (Apple illustration)

 ·         Humility:

·         I remember an old master said, When you know that you have it you have lost it.

·         God first, other’s second, self last is an old standard to life by.

·         Knowing and accepting and believing and being yourself for God.

·         Not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.

 Do you know that in the Greek culture humility was not acceptable, it meant cowering, and cringing, being servile, shameful, yet we see that Christianity adopted humility as a necessary virtue.

·         Humility comes from comparing yourself to Christ.

·         Self-satisfaction comes from the standard with which we compare ourselves to others.

·         Comparing ourselves to Christ though we are without doubt humbled.  

·         Meekness:

Power under control.

·         Moses, remember was meek yet powerful. Numbers 12:3 Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

·         Jesus meek and humble in heart. Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

·         Colt that had been broken, meek yet powerful.

·         Greek: virtue for example was between two extremes. Too angry or never angry, meekness is never angry at the wrong time, but always angry at the right time.

·         Longsuffering:

 Never gives up, but neither does it give in. Because it endures to the end it gains its reward. Longsuffering never retaliates, it has power to take revenge but never does. Poor analogy is the pup and the big dog. Young man old man.

 ·         A spirit that bears insult and injury without bitterness or complaint.

·         Suffers unpleasant people with graciousness and fools without irritation.

·         Romans 2:4 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you towards repentance? Paul asks the sinner if he despises God’s longsuffering. Peter calls God’s longsuffering an opportunity for Salvation.

 ·         Love:

 ·         The Christian church invented this word. In the Greek we have Agape, Eros, Philia and Storge. Agape meant charity. Giving for the sake of giving.The Church has taken it further though to mean godly love.

 ·         Remember nothing a person can do will make us seek anything but their highest good. Not emotional love from the heart, but from the will.

·         1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says; Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

·        Loves the unlovable. It is of Gods Grace.

 Peace:

 ·         These four virtues together bring forth another. Peace.

·         Right with God and right with man = We will have Peace

·         I believe it all depends on the obliteration of self, of self-denial.

·         In a self-centered life, there is little unity and peace.

·         In a self-centered society there is a collection of individualistic opposing units.

·         When a person can not get on with God, how then can we expect them to get on with others. 

 To end we must remember that our lives must be Christ like with His Humility, His Meekness, His longsuffering, His Love and His Peace.

 This will allow each one of us to maintain the unity of the body the Church known as Portslade Baptist Church.

 Amen. Next time we come to this text we will look at unity through the Work of the Faithful


I want to remind the church and those watching that our Easter Celebrations have not ended, because every Sunday in our church we have an encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus and we Behold His Majesty todays reading in Matthew 17:1-24 – I want to begin by showing you the Historical outline of this text:

What a blessing it must have been, spending time with Christ during His earthly ministry. To hear His teaching, spoken with the voice of authority. Think about being there and able to witness His miracles and all that was going on.

Among those who were blessed to be with Jesus, were three men Peter, James and John. Here they accompanied Jesus on the mount of transfiguration where we read in Mt 17:1-2 Peter would later write of that experience on the mount - he said in 2 Peter 1:16-18 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

He says they were "eyewitnesses of His majesty" That Jesus received "honor and glory" from God the Father. What an experience this must have been for these three fishermen from Galilee!

What happened on the mount? Put Simply They Beheld His Majesty.

I. THEY BEHELD THE MAJESTY OF HIS PERSON

 A. WHICH WAS EVIDENCED BY HIS TRANSFIGURATION...

1. He was "transfigured" - Mt 17:2; Mk 9:2 the greek word used her, met-am-or-fo'-o. Meaning to change, transfigure, transform

B. THIS WAS EVIDENCED BY THE PRESENCE OF MOSES AND ELIJAH...

1. They were talking with Jesus - Mt 17:3; Mk 9:4

a. They also appeared in glory - Lk 9:31and the following verses tells us that!

b. They were discussing with Jesus about His coming death in Jerusalem - Lk 9:31b

c. Peter, James, and John had been sleeping, but awoke to  see Jesus in His glory, and talking with Moses and Elijah   

d. Moses and Elijah then began to depart - Lk 9:33

[But Peter was soon to learn that Jesus was above Moses and Elijah, especially in regards to His authority!  As we continue, to read, you will notice that...]

THEY BEHELD THE MAJESTY OF HIS COMING KINGDOM

 A. THIS WAS EVIDENCED BY THE VOICE FROM HEAVEN... "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Hear Him!" - Mt 17:5; This terrified the disciples vs. 6 then vs. 7 Jesus then sought to comfort them.

The command, "Hear Him!" Implies that God would begin to speak through His Son, not the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). That is why we have these powerfull words in Hebrews 1:1-2 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.

b. That means that the rule and reign of God would be exercised through His Son, as He would be given all authority in heaven and Earth.

B. EVIDENCED BY THE ABSENCE OF MOSES AND ELIJAH...

After hearing the voice, and lifting up their eyes, only Jesus was present - Mt 17:8;

Perhaps symbolizing what the voice clearly declared:  That Jesus was the one they were to hear, not Moses and Elijah who likely represented the Law and the Prophets.

What does God desire of us today? 

Not to build tabernacles or temples erected in the memory of His  Son

But for us to simply to obey what God said at the mount: "Hear Him!" the bible says, are you listening:

If we desire to add to the honor and glory that Jesus so richly deserves, and to one day behold His majesty in heaven, then let us be careful to take heed of what He himself said regarding His authority:

 "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Mt 28:18-20

That is the historical content but:Matthew 17 talks to me though of the Greatest Hindrances  to our faith.

Faith so important to us, faith in the future, faith in your government faith in your marriage, faith in your parents, faith in yourself. We all live by faith in some form or other, faith in God though is for us as Christians the most important faith we can have.  Look at the experience of your own soul. What would it gain man to win the world, and lose his soul.

Here I can see Three experiences, which are common to us all.

Mountain top experience = a type of faith where we loved it could have stayed there forever type of experience.

The Plain experience = our daily grind – places were we have found it hard to cope.

In the Valley experience = perhaps in our time of grief = This for many is an unacceptable burden.

The lesson for us is in the way these disciples felt about things.

They were ecstatic one moment, on the mount, then they were impotent  in the plain where they could do nothing, in the valley they were full of grief.

Their Faith was affected by what they felt.  Jesus though, through His Glory, and His power was steadfast. His feelings were always controlled by faith.

The Mountain top was always Christ’s ideal for us  – Look at the early Christian life, it was all experience they grew in their faith daily and it took over their lives.

What Mountain top experience can we have today in our – church – communion – worship – Remember we are the body of Christ His People.

We can have these Mountain Top experiences and therefore should always put ourselves in the way of blessing, but remember Christ must lead you and I to the mountain top, because there is a real danger when we go looking for it ourselves we will fail because we have no roots and our faith fails us.

That’s what many people want mountain experiences no plane and definitely no valley experience.But getting to the top of a mountain requires effort and discipline.

Have you seen his glory = if not then get to know Christ more.

Have you confirmed difficult teaching = then get to know his Word more.

Have you felt encouragement and  rest = then get to know yourself more.

The Experience in your soul doesn’t change does it?

We often confuse our spiritual condition with our feelings. We should have no different feelings either on the mountain top,  the plain or valley, however for some reason how we are feeling can hinder our faith. Don’t let your feelings destroy your confidence, and ultimately your Faith in God.

The Plain = Think about the day to day living. Here we have an Emergency - Man and his child, here was a need the disciples could not meet. Here was an Enemy they could not conquer, they needed help to deal with this. Their faith diminished as they came down the mountain top. Jesus said why do You have so little faith.

They needed help: Prayer of faith was needed = not feelings. Jesus did not feel good He said “ How long”

Rebuke the enemy = remember speaking out demonstrates your faith.

Someone once said to me don’t Sanctify a fast = only if necessary and only for prayer.

Speaking in faith = vs 20 say to this mountain move and it will. Great faith the size of a mustad seed.

Use the word of God as the authority that we all have = Jesus did this, and so must we.

Jesus did not run back up the mountain, for a mountain top experience to handle this = he acted in faith.

The Valley = Here the disciples were filled with grief, things were not going the way they wanted or what they had hoped for!

Feelings took over and there faith withered. Remember Faith comes from having deep roots:

Church Attendance = Hearing and reading and obeying  the Word of God = Being steadfast in Prayer.

Build up your faith and If we desire to add to the honor and glory that Jesus so richly deserves, and to one day behold His majesty in heaven, then lets be careful to heed what He himself said regarding regarding His authority:

"All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." - Mt 28:18-20

Is More faith needed by you? Remember then these words of Jesus:  " I am with you always, even to the end of the age. No matter what you are going through I am with you always, even to the end of the age". AMEN!

ECCLESIASTES 1:1 – 11  - THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS!

The book of Ecclesiastes is about facing life with all its obstacles.  As I read from the opening verses of Ecclesiastes you would probably have sensed for yourself that the writer, has a pretty pessimistic outlook on life. You may find it strange to find such a hopeless word in such a hopeful book as the bible. Frances Schaeffer a well-known Christian and writer said "There is a time, and ours is such a time, when a negative message is needed before anything positive can begin...

People often say to me, How do you evangelise as a christian and with so little time to speak to people today. If I am invited to share the gospel,  I would spend 45 or 50 minutes on the negative, to show him his real dilemma - to show him that he is more dead than even he thinks he is...Then I would take 10 to 15 minutes to tell him the gospel..

Because unless he understands what is wrong, he will not be ready to listen to or understand the positive." We need to make people understand the negative before they can embrace the positive - that is the thrust of Ecclesiastes.

I want to say of course that life, even for the non-Christian, is not all negatives. Life has many good moments in it, but what I am saying is that even if you add up all the good moments life by itself is meaningless and does not satisfy us.

1:1 tells us that these are "the words of the Teacher, son of David, King of Jerusalem." What we have before us in this strange book is his spiritual journal, a record of his spiritual pilgrimage. He was a man who had everything that he could want, but still he felt empty, so he started out on a journey to find satisfaction. I should tell you now that this journey left him deflated, depressed and disillusioned. His usual conclusion about life you find in v.2 "everything is meaningless" or "all is vanity" or "life is empty."

This is the way that Solomon felt before he began his journey, while he endured it and after it was over. Nothing satisfied him. He tried to drain life of all that it could give him and found that even after he had experienced everything he felt empty and hollow.

However, at the end of his journey Solomon made the following conclusions about life with which he begins his book:

1. Life is boring (v.3): "What does a man gain from all his labour at which he toils under the sun?" The idea here is that life is a grind, it is boring, it is as repetitive as the mouse in the wheel of its cage - an endless cycle going nowhere. Most people go through life on the treadwheel of the same routines.

Many of us are prisoners to our routines. We are all in routines and we often wonder "what's the point" and we have fantasies about breaking out of the routine, of going down to the Porsche showroom buying a fast car, I am not saying that all routines are bad, we could not survive without them, but I am sure that we all catch the sense of the writers  heartfelt cry - what is the point of this endless cycle of work and routine, what is it achieving, where's it leading to, what's the point, it's boring!

The bottom line is that work is not fulfilling by itself. You do not find perfect fulfilment in work.

2. Life is fragile (v.4): "Generations come, and generations go, but the earth remains forever." The writers negative conclusion about life is in fact an accurate one - people don't last. Think of all the months in preparation before a baby is born, think of all the years that our youngsters go through in preparing for adult life and responsibility, all those years at school, college, etc.. think of all the time spent in chasing after a marriage partner, planning for our homes and then think how easily it can all be swept away.

You can walk across a road, be hit by a car and that's the end of you. You can be sitting in a plane and then be sucked out as the terrorist's bomb explodes. You can be crossing the channel in a car ferry only to have it roll over on you. You can contract a virus, not one of us knows how soon life will end for us. You might even live a long life, ninety or more years but there will come a time when you too will be forgotten.

Human beings come and go. In terms of eternity we are like those flies who are born have a short buzz round the place and then die. We are but a blip on the radar screen, we are but dust only to return to dust. Life itself, wonderful gift though it may be, cannot satisfy by itself, there has to be more to life than simply existing.

3. Life is repetitive (vv 5 - 7): "The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again."

To Solomon the rising of the sun was only the start of another boring day. Do you ever feel like that - that your life is as monotonous as the swirling wind or the rolling river? Have you ever felt that your life is on a boring cycle like the sun and have you ever wondered why you feel like that? You feel like that because it is like that.

The sun, wind and water only mirror our own experience. Many people find their lives boringly repetitive and so they seek ways of escape. Some people try the way of novelty, they change their jobs, move their houses, buy the latest gadgets (today it is tablets and cellfones - who knows what it will be next.) Some give up on their marriages and swap their wives. Most marriages break down not because the partners are hostile towards each other but because they are bored with each other and the dull routine of their lives. Ordinary life is a dull reality which has to be faced, and God it seems has made it that way. It is not God's plan that we be fulfilled by life itself. Why? I will explain in a few minutes.

4. Life can not be satisfied (v.8): "All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing."

Life has an appetite which can never be satisfied. We get the thing that we've been seeking, whether it be that pay rise, that promotion, that new house, that gadget and yet we find that it does not satisfy us, we still want more. Our whole society is geared to make us want more, yesterday's gadgets must be replaced with new toys, but it will not satisfy you.

The worst thing about life is that by itself it leaves us unsatisfied. We get what we think we want only to find that it's not good enough and that we want something else. Who can make sense of all of this?

5. Life does not get better (vv 9 and 10): "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look this is something new!'? It was here already, long ago, it was here before our time." (Old clothes seem to come back into fashion)

We try and improve things in life only to find ourselves back with the same old problems. In glasgow we tried to improve the social problems of the tenements by building high rise flats to find that we have only created a new set of social problems.

They are now spending tens of millions pulling down high rise estates more than it cost less to put up in the sixties. We find the cure for one dreadful disease only to find this new variant sweeping humanity. We find that when peace breaks out between one contry another a new threat comes along and it starts all over again.

If you are hoping that life by itself will improve and get better then don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen because it's not going to happen. Human beings have proved that they do not learn from history, that by themselves they can not bring heaven on earth. Life by itself will not improve. If you are waiting for this new product to come along which will make life better you are in for a long wait. No wonder so many turn to drugs, alcohol, anything which blurrs out life.

6. Life is forgettable (v.11): "There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow."

Solomon in effect says "I'd like to forget about life, after all everybody who contributes to life will in time be forgotten." Have you ever felt that at the end of the day "I'd like to forget about this day." Have you ever felt at the end of school exams "I'd like to forget about all of this now." The truth is that at the end of the day most if not all of what we have struggled for can be easily forgotten and put aside. The bottom line is that people can live without us and our contribution, we can be forgotten. The bottom line here is "who cares?"

So this is life as it is. We know that it is for all of us who are right in the middle of it right now. God has allowed life to become like this so that life will not satisfy us by itself. If life satisfied we would not want more than life itself, so God has made life so that we are forced to cry out "There must be more to life than this!" Have you thought that thought? Is that your cry too?

Is there to more to life than this? The answer is "Yes, a thousand times yes, THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS!"

The key to understanding Solomon's condition and our own is to note that phrase which appears twice in our reading in vv 3 and 9, the words "under the sun." Under the sun, that is in this life itself, all is meaningless, there is nothing new, nothing can satisfy.

As long as you look for satisfaction in things which are "under the sun" you will never be satisfied. If you want to make sense of life, if you want fulfilment in life, then you must stop looking horizontally at things of the world and look vertically beyond the sun, to God himself.

Life only makes sense, life only satisfies when God is brought into it. This is the conclusion that the writer will reach in 2:26 "to the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness." Life only makes sense when God is brought into it.

Life's problems go all the way back to the beginnings of man's history, to what the bible calls the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 1 and 2 God created man as a spiritual being, that is what the bible means when it says in Gen 1:27 that we were created in the "image of God." As spiritual beings we are meant to have a personal relationship with God, and it is this vertical relationship with God which makes the horizontal dimension of life make sense. Sadly the story is told in Gen 3 of how the first men and women disobeyed God and the disease of sin came into their lives which we have  all inherited and which has cut us off from God. That is why life is meaningless - because it IS meaningless without God.

So God has decided to change all of that. God has come to our world in the person of Jesus Christ and offers us the return of the full life if we will return to him. We read these exciting words in John 10:7 - 11 where Jesus says:

"I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them." [If you have listened to other voices before the voice of Jesus then these voices will have robbed you of your life. They will have made you do things that you did not really want to do. They will have driven you to waste your time, your money, your life on things that will not have satisfied you. They will have driven you to team up with people who were wrong for you. Have you been robbed of your life?] Jesus goes on to say "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief only comes to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

Jesus has laid down his life for you, so that the sin which has spoiled your life and separated you from God can be judged, cleansed and forgiven.

Jesus has come to forgive us for the fact that we have lived this life horizontally, without the vertical dimension of loving and worshipping the God who gave us life in the first place.

If you will come to God seeking to turn from your sins and be forgiven then God will restore that spiritual dimension to your life and give you life to the full and in abundance.

God wants you to be free from a meaningless life. He wants to give you life and give it to the full.

You will not get a full life by seeking the things of this world, you must look up and seek the things of God. Jesus said in Matthew 6:19f "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Life does not make sense when your heart is in this world and in worldly things alone. You need to place your heart in heaven in order to live fulfilled, knowing that your life is more than this life. If you want life like that, then you can receive it right now by praying and asking Jesus to give you life. Will you join me in prayer now:

Revd. David M Meikle