Commit To Love by Eirwen Parry

April 8, 2018

In her sermon entitled “Commit To Love” Eirwen spoke on a very specific type of love. This is a love that has nothing to do with our feelings. It is not an emotional love, nor is it a romantic, sexual, friendship, or a brotherly love. This love is called “Agape”, and it is a committed and faithful will to love. It is a love that is found between God and man. Agape is the sort of love that says “I will love God, and I will love man”, even though we may be in the pit of despair, in very great pain, having been hurt by the very people we are called to love.

Referring to Revelations 5:2-5, Eirwen talks of the scroll; a scroll that no one on earth or in heaven could open. It is a legal document that buys back all of creation, and there is only one who is worthy to be able to open it. Only Jesus. Throughout history, there is no one who could redeem man in heaven or earth, except Jesus. Only Him. Jesus succeeds in doing what no other could, because he was willing. He heard what God asked of Him, and He said “I will”. He endured the ultimate torture, and He did it for us, and He did it willingly. This is the true meaning of agape love.

Continuing, Eirwen asked us what this love would look like in real life. She explained that she would be using David to illustrate how agape love can be demonstrated in real life. Beginning in 2Samuel 9:1-13. Here, we meet Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul. Saul was the enemy of David. This made Mephibosheth his enemy, too, and yet, David chose to bless him in abundance in spite of this fact, and to have him eat at his table. Mephibosheth was a cripple. He was wounded; this is similar to how we are with God, rendered unable to clean ourselves, but God sees our weaknesses, and although we could quite easily be enemies to Him, He chose; was willing to bless us by sending Jesus. He leads us to a place at the table, where we can feast on Him; so that we can know Him, and taste, and see that He is good.

The purpose of the Church is to lead us into the presence of Jesus. He lays a table for us, but the question that we need to be asking ourselves is, are we laying a table for those people who have nothing to give. A great many Churches just build towers to show how good they are at worship, preaching, outreach, etc, but we should all be laying a table to show how good He is. In truth, it is all about God, and Jesus, and if a Church isn’t leading people to God, then it’s useless. We should be inviting people to come and feast on Jesus, and see how good He really is, and then those people, in turn, will lead others to the table. David exhibited true grace in the way he behaved towards Mephibosheth. He had no reason to behave kindly towards him, and yet he did, even going so far as to bless him greatly. This is exactly what God does for us.

Referring to 2Samuel 24:24, Eirwen speaks of when David bought the threshing floor. Though he was offered the land and as many animals as he wanted for a sacrifice, he insisted on buying it. He refused to make a sacrifice to God, that hadn’t cost him anything. This is what happened with Jesus. He lost everything at the cross. He gave everything at the cross. After a sacrifice like that, what does it cost us to follow Him.

In Malachi 3 it is written that we are to bring in all the tithes, and to give a proportion of what we have, first to God. We are called to do this regularly and generously. These tithes are money, time, and effort. They can be costly things. Sometimes we lack enthusiasm, we are ‘tired’ or ‘broke’, but we are called to bring a sacrifice of praise. Our excuses often don’t match up. In truth, people will find a way to do things that they want to do, but we are called to give first to God, and to do so regularly and generously. The truth is, that once we spend time with God and get to know Him, it is easier to do what He wants us to.

Agape love cannot be understood unless we can understand how He first loved us. Christ displayed the absolute of agape love, when He stood up and said “I will do it”, and went to the cross, not forced, but voluntarily, for us. In doing this, Jesus feeds us for life, and takes us into heaven with Him.

1Chronicles 29:14 says “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand”. The simple truth is that we cannot give God anything that He hasn’t given us first. David was the King and had an abundance of things, but He was ready and willing to make sacrifices for God. It was David’s dream to build the temple, but God told him not to. David listened, and didn’t become bitter about it. He gives freely, and allows God’s will to take place, setting aside his own wants.

Eirwen asked us how we respond when we see someone else getting what we really want. We might get angry, or bitter. We might feel sorry for ourselves, but it is important that we remember that it’s what God wants that is the most important thing. Eirwen asked us to not withhold. God never withholds from us, and we should not withhold what we can give. God never withdraws from us. He’s constantly speaking to us. We should not withhold friendships, or time, but should give as freely as He has given us.

In closing, Eirwen asked us to be more like David. Church is supposed to be somewhere people can go to find rest in God. It is not a place for one-upmanship, and discord. She called us to stay as one and not fall out with each other, but to put together again the fractured relationships in a way that honours God. 1John 4:19-21 talks about love for God, and for our brothers and sisters. The truth is that our standing in the world is the same as Christ if we act in love. We are called to love and to be loved. First we were loved, by Him, and now, we can truly love if we let love rule in our hearts.

Scriptures: Revelation 5:2-5, Isaiah 59:15-17, 2Samuel 9:1-13, 2Samuel 24:24. Malachi 3, 1Chronicles 29:14, 1John 4:19-21

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Jesus Died For Me by Andrea Parry

April 1, 2018

Speaking on Easter Sunday, Andrea’s message is simply called, “Jesus died for me”. This is the simple and beautiful truth of Easter. There is nothing else.

 

John 1:1-5 tells us that Jesus (the Word) was there in the beginning. In fact, the entire Old Testament of the Bible points us to Jesus. He was never a ‘Plan B’ for humanity. The truth is, God had our salvation and redemption in mind before the start of creation. He was thinking of us at the creation of the earth. Jesus was not simply God’s attempt to fix a mistake. Instead, Jesus shows what a loving, kind and sacrificial God He is. At the time of the fall, He could have chosen to just wipe us out and start again, but this is not who He is. Instead, He knew that we would fall, and He already had a plan set in place to redeem us to Himself. He is a God who would rather die than see us lost for all eternity. This is why Jesus went to the cross. At the time of creation, God created man and woman, and gave them free will. They chose to sin. They were created perfect, but they ended up living with sin. They needed redemption. We needed redemption.

 

Going back to the Old Testament, in the time of Moses, there had to be a law because the people were caught up in sin, doing whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted; they needed to be guided into righteousness, which is why God gave the ten commandments to Moses, but the Law could not redeem man. There was no self redemption. This is why Jesus came.

 

The New Testament: The Cross. Jesus’ life was a fulfilment of prophecy. Everything He did, until He poured out His life for mankind. He lived perfectly. He is the person who surpasses the law to save us. In the Old Testament, the law, and redemption achieved by blood was required. The blood was provided by a sacrificial lamb. A Passover lamb. At the Crucifixion, Jesus became THE most perfect Passover lamb of all time. He died unbroken so that we may live unbroken, without fear, or death.

 

Jesus is our present and our future. He bought that for us when He was on the cross. The devil thought he’d won. He thought that he’d bested God, but Jesus pays the debt in full, and buys atonement and redemption. He covers our sin, and chooses not to remember it. Atonement means to cover and exchange. Jesus exchanged His life, for our righteousness, and all that He requires in return is humility and gratitude. Because of Him, there is no need to dwell in the past. Jesus is the present and the future.

 

Andrea went on to say that redeemed people are different. We change because of His sacrifice. The truth is that now we can stand before God as if we are Jesus; clean and blameless.

 

The sacrifice Jesus made on the cross is ultimate. For the first time in history, there was no holy trinity. He took on our sin. God turned His back on Him; His only Son. It must have been agony for God to do this, but He did it, because He loves us so much, and when Jesus breathed His last, He cried out “It is finished!” It was done. He died, abandoned by most of His disciples, watched by His mother and some of His followers.

 

Andrea went on to say that they must have felt absolute grief, utter helplessness, and desolation, but they didn’t know that Jesus was battling in the grave; that His death was being swallowed up in victory. Jesus was in hell, telling the enemy that He now had the keys to death and hell. He battled so that we don’t have to, and we will rise with Him. He goes before us so we don’t have to suffer.

 

The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis. It literally means ‘a rising up’. In scripture, we see that they didn’t understand that Jesus was the temple that would be torn down and rebuilt in three days.

 

In John 20:1-9 John and Simon-Peter go to the tomb, and find that the stone has been rolled away. The thing that they don’t realise, is that Jesus didn’t need the stone rolled away for Him to get out; it was so that we could see and know that He was no longer there, and that He had risen. In another account of this, there is an angel inside the tomb, that asks why they are looking for the living among the dead.

 

Often we look for the way, and cling on to our past, and what we were. In doing this, we, too are searching for the living among the dead. Andrea implored us to leave what we are clinging to among the dead, to take off our grave clothes, as Jesus did, and to move forwards to walk among the living.

 

When Mary was at the tomb, Jesus only says her name, and she realises that it’s Him. Today, He is calling our names. He is a good good Father, and we are loved by Him. If we give Him the chance, He will whisper to us the truth of who we are. He sees us as we are, and not how we see ourselves. Andrea challenged us to focus on what Jesus thinks of us, and on what this means for us.

 

The resurrection is an absolute, unifying thing of the Christian faith. It crosses all denominations. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow: Forever. We are called to not focus on what divides us, but only on what unites us. He never forgets us, and even when we can’t find the words, He sends the Spirit to help us. No matter what our situation may be, God has not forgotten us. He just expects us to be patient. He is always listening, and He will answer in His time.

 

God loved us so much, He came to earth as a person; our redeemer. Fully God, and fully man. Jesus completed the work of God, as He is Prophet, Priest and King. God became human and died for us. No other ‘God’ does this. No other ‘God’ forgives so easily.

 

Returning to the title of her message, Andrea repeats the truth of Easter Sunday. Jesus died for me. Jesus died for you. Jesus died for us. What amazing love? And all so that we could be reconciled to Him.

 

Scriptures: John 1:1-5, John 20:1-9

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Keep The Fire Burning by Pastor Phylip Morgan

March 25, 2018

For his Palm Sunday sermon, Pastor Phyl spoke on the topic of Altars. His message is titled “Keep The Fire Burning”. He began his preach by saying that there is something powerful about Palm Sunday. This is the beginning of the greatest sacrifice of all time. Pastor Phyl asked the readers in the congregation if any of them liked to skip to the end of the story. This is something that we are able to do. We already know the end of the story, because we are on this side of history. We are on the side of history that knows that He is no longer in the tomb; that knows that He has risen.

Referring to Leviticus 6:9-13 Pastor Phyl explained that this was all about gaining forgiveness for God’s people. The High Priests would come to the Altar and sacrifice burnt offerings to atone for the people. The fire was to be kept burning, and on no account was it to be allowed to go out. We, too are called to have a fire on an Altar that must be kept burning, but this Altar, and fire, is in our hearts. This is the place where God meets us. Altars are incredible things. Noah felt the urge to build an Altar and sacrifice an animal when he and his family were able to leave the Ark. Abraham also felt the urge to build an Altar. He felt he could do nothing more than build an Altar and start to praise God. All through the Old Testament.

People build Altars after encounters with God, marking a physical place of meeting with Him. Another thing that comes with an Altar, is that it is a place of forgiveness. In the Old Testament, only certain people could go to the Altar. The New Testament, and the New Covenant ushers in a new order where the Altar can be entered into by anyone. Even us. There is no need for a High Priest. We are now afforded direct access to God.

Many modern Churches have no Altar in their buildings. The Altar is now in our hearts. Instead, of an Altar, many Churches have a Table Of Remembrance, where we can remember God’s sacrifice, but it is important that we don’t lose our reverence for this. We must never underestimate the sacrifice God made for us. Because of His sacrifice, God sees the righteousness of Jesus when He looks at us, and not the blackness of our sin. Because of Jesus’ love for us, we can know that we are loved and accepted. He makes unholy things Holy.

Hebrews 13:9-15 encourages us to meet Jesus outside the city. We must take God’s word and run it through our hearts. We must work out our own faith by means of a relationship with God, and by spending time in His word. Good preachers will show us the way to Jesus, but it is us that must then walk the path. The truth is that we no longer need others to make sacrifices for us- we can go straight to God because Jesus came, and made a way for us. He made it possible for us to set aside old traditions, and to go outside the camp, to find Him at the cross. He brings us new promise, and all we need do is confess our sins and ask for forgiveness; then our sins and iniquities will be remembered no more.

We have no need for physical altars in our lives, but instead, are called to build one in our hearts; to continually keep the fire burning, night and day. The fire must NOT go out. The Holy Spirit can help us to keep the fires burning, so that we may bring a sacrifice of praise to Him who came that we might be saved.

In closing, Pastor Phyl reminded us that God is NEVER asleep, and encouraged us to keep our fire burning continuously, night and day, so that it would not go out.

Scriptures: Leviticus 6:9-13, Hebrews 13:9-15

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God Has A Plan by Pastor Phylip Morgan

March 11, 2018

“God Has A Plan”

This is the title of Pastor Phyl’s sermon this week. He began by saying that he wanted to ask us to do one thing; to trust God. It’s a hard thing to do, and there is no greater challenge than to trust God with our children. Pastor Phyl went on to tell the story of a man who loved mountain biking. One day, when he was out on the mountains, he was going a little too fast and ended up so near to the cliff edge that he went over. As he was falling, he reached out and caught hold of a branch. Once he was hanging there, there was no way up or down. He called out for help, and a voice came down from the heavens; God’s voice. The man asked for help, and God told him to trust Him and let go of the branch. The man then called out, asking if there was anyone else there. This is so typical of our society. We find it so difficult to just reach out in blind faith and to trust God.

Psalm 145:4 says: “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts”

This section of scripture shows quite clearly that all of God’s works are for good, and that He has a plan. The truth is that God has a great plan for our lives, but when experiences come our way, we’re the ones that aren’t so sure. We will come up against challenges, but God has a plan. All we need to do is to trust Him.

In Exodus 1, the new Pharaoh didn’t know  Joseph’s good deeds. They were not communicated to him, and so they were lost. This is why Psalm 145:4 is so important. Without this happening, Pharaoh set in place an edict that all of the Hebrew women’s male babies were to be put to death. This is where we enter the story of Moses (Exodus 2:1-10), and we are shown clearly that God always has a plan.

The story of Moses is one that we tend to romanticise, but it is not a “good” story. It must have been so hard for Jochebed. She gave birth to a baby boy, whom she knew would be put to death if he was discovered. She chose to hide him for as long as possible, and when she was not able to hide him any longer, she placed him in a basket and put the basket in the bulrushes. She trusted God. She had no way of knowing, one way or another, whether her son would be ok. She just had to place all of her trust in God, that He would bring Moses through this, and as the story progresses, we see that God had a great plan for Moses’ life all along.

Pastor Phyl spoke of three points that we must remember as we go through life:

  • Trust God

We try to teach our children all of the things that we didn’t do. We try to make sure that the things we did wrong don’t then become the same things that our children do wrong, but in the end, only God knows the plan that He has for them.

Jochebed trusted God when she placed Moses into the basket and set him among the bulrushes. She wouldn’t have known whether he would survive or not. If he had been found by the wrong person, he would have been killed instantly. It was a huge risk for her to let go of him and let God carry out His plan, but she did it. She trusted God for her child.

Can we trust God for our children?

  • Celebrate The Miracles

90% of parenting is a drudge. It is the discipline, and the teaching, and telling them over and over again the same thing. What we must learn to do is to celebrate the little things when they’re young, and we will see God’s goodness.

When Moses was discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh, and Jochebed was called to nurse him, she was able to celebrate the fact that he was still alive, and that she was able to be a part of his life, and not only that, she was getting paid for it. She trusted God and was rewarded for this.

What we must take from this story is that we need to celebrate the little things; the small achievements that happen in the mundane.

  • Learn To See The Big Picture

A man named Professor Heimlich was made famous after inventing the Heimlich manoeuvre. It is interesting that it is he who invented this, when the very same manoeuvre would, many years later, be the thing that saved his life.

God saw the big picture, and so did Jochebed in Exodus. She trusted in God’s plan, even if it wasn’t exactly how she wanted things to go, and as a result, Moses grew up to be well educated and was able to free so many people from slavery.

Pastor Phyl brought his sermon to a close by asking us whether we could trust God with ours and our children’s lives. He encouraged us to pray for them and to trust them to God. This is something that we must do as we progress in our Christian walk and we realise that we must let go of the physical, because there is nothing that we can control.

God’s grace is the only reason we’re here.

Can we trust Him and His plan?

 

Scriptures: Psalm 145, Psalm 145:4, Exodus 2:1-10

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Big Mistake by Pastor Phylip Morgan

March 4, 2018

This week’s message by Pastor Phyl is titled Big Mistake, and is taken from the Gospel of Mark 12:13-27. He began his preach by asking us whether we’ve made mistakes. It can be hard to admit to these. It is hard to admit that we have been wrong. The truth is that we all make mistakes. It is human nature to do so. Some of our mistakes are small, insignificant ones that are no big deal and can be forgotten easily, but some are big mistakes that, in turn, bring big consequences, which people then have to live with.

In this passage of scripture, the Pharisees and Herodians are sent to try and catch Jesus out with His own words, but they are amazed by something. His Authority. He is able to answer every one of their questions and they find themselves unable to catch Him out.

Pastor Phyl told us that we have authority, too, but that our authority doesn’t come from us, it comes from God. We are given all authority, in Christ Jesus. We are able to take Christ’s authority and live it. We are just God’s spokesperson, and we have a real, true authority in Christ.

Looking at some influential figures from the past, Phyl spoke of Rosa Parks, a woman of no fame or position, but she had authority because she trusted in God and in His authority. She believed that all people were equal, regardless of their skin colour, and as such, acted on this belief, communicating with authority.

Jesus is communicating to these people, and although they were trying to catch Him out, they were amazed at His authority when He reasoned, Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s” Here, He is effectively saying that we must honour God with our lives, seeing as He gives us life.

A big mistake is a bad mistake. Many people make mistakes because they don’t know scripture or the power of God. We can do this too. If we are not in the scripture, we can get lost, and this is when mistakes happen. We can get lost in our lives, and struggle to find the way. The answer is to know the scriptures, and to know the power of God, or we will find ourselves in the middle of a big mistake. The truth is that we are nothing, save for the power of Christ.

Pastor Phyl introduced us to the ‘five solae’s of the reformation’. These are principles that we need to have in our lives:

  • Sola Scriptura – By Scripture Alone

We are to build our lives on scripture alone. This is our authority on life. Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” The truth is that we can either believe it or not. It won’t always be palatable, but it is right. In the world, there are plenty of people who claim to be Christians, but their actions do not follow this claim. It is easy to differentiate between a fake Christian, and a true Christian, because a true Christian lives by the principle of ‘Sola Scriptura’. Without this commitment to the word, people can find themselves drifting away from God.

  • Sola Gratia – By Grace Alone

Nothing but Grace can save us. No matter what we do, no matter what we’ve done, He saved us. There is no sin too great that it cannot be covered by the Grace of God. There is nothing that we can do to make Him love us any more or any less.

 

  • Sola Fide – By Faith Alone

We must accept His Grace by faith. We have to make that decision to believe, and this is done by faith. By trusting in Him and His word. Good works are not a requirement for salvation. Faith alone; the belief in Christ is what gives us the opportunity to be saved. It doesn’t matter what we do. Nothing we do will ever be ‘good enough’, because we are not ‘good enough’. The only way to salvation is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in God, who sent Him. Good works and actions are often seen to be done by people who have been saved, but this comes about as a result of drawing closer to God and surrendering to His will, but the fact is, that deeds and actions will not give you salvation. This comes solely as a result of faith.

  • Solus Christus – Through Christ Alone

Acts 4:12 says “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”. There is NO other name. Jesus is THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. He is the only one who can act as an intermediary between us and God. No other person can provide salvation, only Jesus. In saying this, it is important that we remember that the Bible is not exclusive. Christ is not exclusive. In John 3:16, it is written: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. The scripture here is quite clear; ‘whoever’. God does not discriminate. Whoever believes may come. Also important to remember, however, is that the Bible, and Salvation is selective, because it is said quite clearly that we must accept Christ’s sacrifice. Without our acceptance and belief of this sacrifice, salvation cannot be ours.

  • Soli Deo Gloria – For God’s Glory

God came by His Grace, for His Glory. We are called to reach out in Faith to Christ; to make sure that our actions only serve to bring Him the glory. We are not to seek veneration. The glory is not ours, but His.

In closing, Pastor Phyl prayed that we would be able to take these Five Solae’s and apply them to our lives, so that we can avoid making the big mistakes, that come with big consequences, and that all of our actions would be rooted in Scripture, covered by Grace, acted on in Faith, through Christ alone, for the Glory of God.

Scriptures: Mark 12:13-27, Hebrews 4:12, Acts 4:12, John 3:16

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What Are You Carrying? by Ruth Morgan

February 25, 2018

Ruth began her first sermon of 2018 by asking us how we pack when we go on holiday. Do we pack too much stuff, or are we the kind of person who counts out the exact number of outfits, and then doubles that, just in case? She asked, “Do you take to much stuff with you?”

Abraham Lee, an explosive ordnance disposal officer for seven years said that when on a mission, the team would literally only carry what was essential and would contribute to the task. He said that to carry anything extra would be pointless.

We all carry excess baggage in life; unnecessary weight that we don’t need to carry, and yet, we all do it. Over time, our emotional cargo mounts up and begins to weigh us down. There are so many things that we pick up and put in our bag to carry, such as negative attitudes, stresses, angst towards others, bitterness and unforgiveness. These can fill us up and all leave an unnecessary weight for us to carry on our backs. This emotional baggage can build up so quietly and steadily that we might not even realise how heavy it has become, and how much weight it places on our hearts and minds.

We need to deal with these things, or we will continue to carry them, and this is when we learn tools like bitterness, denial, unforgiveness, revenge and holding grudges. If we don’t deal with our past, and we don’t deal with our issues, we choose to carry them, and when we carry these things, it is like carrying weeds inside your heart, that grow so quickly and are so strong that they choke all the good, healthy plants around it. Often, we allow what happens to us to define us, and this is really dangerous as it can lead to us not being who, and where we are meant to be as Children of God.

Ruth talked about an old legend about three men who each carried two sacks. The first man hid all of the good things, and focused on the bad things, stopping to examine them so often that he barely made any progress at all. The second man, kept all his mistakes in the sack on his back, and all the good things in front of him, so he could show them off to everyone. He was weighed down by bad things but couldn’t brink himself to put them down. The third man, kept all the good things in the front sack, but unlike the second man, the sack on his back was empty because he had cut a hole in it so that all the bad things went straight through the sack, leaving him free of the burden of carrying them.

Turning to Scripture, she looked at some people who allowed what they were carrying in their hearts to affect the promise God had over them. Moses had just led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Travelling through the desert, they arrived at the border of the Promised Land. Moses sent twelve men to survey the land. Referring then to her main scripture, Numbers 13:25-33, we read that the men came back to report to Moses, and although two of the men seemed of the opinion that they could enter the land and take it with no problem, the other ten men, so consumed with what they were carrying from their past, talked of far more powerful people that they would never be able to overcome.

Ruth then talked of three points. The first of these is:

  1. What you carry will affect YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Twelve men were send into the same land, saw and experienced exactly the same things, and yet came back with two totally different views. It’s all about perspective, and what you carry has a direct impact on your perspective. You can often tell how people have dealt with past hurts, by looking at how they deal with their current issues. The sayings, ‘hurting people hurt people’, and what goes around comes around’ are a very poignant reminder that when we don’t deal with issues in our lives, they become deeply rooted in our spirit, and then, when trials and circumstances come our way, we automatically head to the ways we know of dealing with things, even though these are not good ways. In the same way, their previous treatment at the hands of the Egyptians caused the ten spies to doubt, and to question their ability to take the land, even though God Himself had promised the land to them. They were so close, and yet their doubt meant that they never got to enter the Promised Land. These spies were carrying four things which prevented them from being able to step out in faith.

  • Doubt
  • Self-Deprecation
  • Fear
  • Unbelief

In stark contrast, Joshua and Caleb were carrying faith. They believe in themselves, in their people, and in their God. They had courage, and, knowing that God was on their side, and believing this, they had confidence in the outcome because they were doing the will of God.

When we haven’t dealt with things in the past, it will change how we see the world. It becomes about us and not about God. The ten men were influenced by their past and wanted to rebel. This is a time when we can begin to carry things like hurt, bitterness, fear, doubt and ungratefulness, if we haven’t dealt with things in our life. The situation appears much bigger than us, and we can see ourselves as incapable. This is when we begin to question God’s ability.

This is what happened to the Israelites when the ten spies were coming from a place of negativity. It is hard to imagine. They were literally on the brink of the promised land, and yet, doubt and the baggage they were carrying made them think that returning to the land of slavery is a better option. Instead of reaching out for all God had for them, they were too busy hanging on to the past and carrying all of their past issues.

Ruth warned us to be careful whose bag we pick up. Family and friends can often offload stuff onto us, and this can risk it becoming our issue too. Often our first impressions can be clouded by other’s baggage and before we know it, we have judged someone without even having met them.

  1. What you’re carrying will affect your PACE

It should have taken eleven days for the Israelites to get to the Promised Land, but instead it took almost forty years. When we carry around issues, rather than dealing with them, it causes us to slow down. Our burden prevents us from moving freely. Instead, we need to look to Hebrews 12, which instructs us to “strip off every weight that slows us down”.

God can’t bless unforgiveness. He can’t bless judgement, and he can’t bless us trying to get even. In short, God can’t bless our mess. The truth is that while we use our energy to focus on our hurts, and disappointments, we can’t move forward, and find ourselves slipping backwards.

We need to live in the fulness of God, if we are to achieve our breakthrough and reach our promised land. Maybe this is the time when we need to look at our bags and unpack some stuff.

  1. What you carry will affect your PURPOSE

Some of the Israelites in the wilderness never got to reach the promised land. Not even Moses did. Ruth emphasised how sad this is. After everything they had been through to get there, they missed out at the last minute because they allowed baggage into their lives which weighed them down and prevented them from moving forward into the full purpose God had for them.

Ruth told us that the way to miss God’s will is really simple. All we have to do is ignore what God is saying. God had told the Israelites that He would deliver them (Exodus 5:6-8), but rather than listening to Him, they listened to men and ignored God, moving away from what He had promised. In the same manner, when we allow negative thoughts and feelings space in our hearts, God is pushed out.

Speaking then about what we need to do to unpack our bag, Ruth gave us eight points:

  1. Confront the past honestly – we can’t alter the past, but we can alter how we view it and how it affects us.
  2. Be aware of our thoughts – we mustn’t allow our energy to be wasted on negative thinking.
  3. Start anew – take steps to remove old habits and routines, creating a new existence in God.
  4. Forgive others – it will do us more good than it will do them.
  5. Go to God – ask Him to heal our hurts
  6. Meet together – if we are dealing with past hurts and carrying excess baggage, we mustn’t avoid Church.
  7. Choose our friends wisely – we must surround ourselves with people who will nourish and build us up
  8. Know what God says –
  • He loves us
  • He accepts us
  • He cares about us
  • He has not forgotten about us
  • He sees us
  • He knows us
  • He provides for us
  • He will not abandon us.
  • He will not abuse us
  • He will not forsake us
  • He will help us
  • He will transform us
  • He will choose to forget our past
  • He will heal our pains
  • He will hold our hand
  • He will restore us
  • He will give us hope
  • He will give us a future
  • He will deal with our hurts

In closing, Ruth encourages us to strip off every weight that slows us down so that we may run the race God has set our before us with endurance. He is waiting for us to come to Him with everything. Every part of us, and all that we are, so that He can give us all that He is.  

 

Scriptures: Numbers 13, Hebrews 3:19, Hebrews 12, Luke 6:37, Romans 12:17-19, Exodus 5:6-8, Philippians 3:13, Philippians 4:8, 2Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:32, 1Peter 5:7, Psalm 92:13, Luke 6:45

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And What Does The Lord Require Of You Part Two by Andrea Parry

February 18, 2018

Bringing part two of her message series “And what does the Lord require of you?” Andrea uses John 4:1-8 to illustrate three core points. In the first part of the series, she spoke from Micah 6:8, and suggested that what God wants is for us to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with Him.

There are certain moral imperatives on our lives; certain things that we have to do to show our fruit to others. In other words, people need to see our faith lived out. This week, it was Valentines Day. Andrea very plainly told us that this was a sham. A fake ‘holiday’ created and publicised by retailers and businesses to make money. The truth is that we don’t have to wait for someone to tell us that they love us. Jesus always has, and always will. He loves us so much, He laid down His life for us. That’s an awful lot better than a card and a bunch of flowers.

She called on us to dedicate ourselves to the Lord. The road to true breakthrough depends on us believing in and through Jesus. This is when we will encounter sustainable and lasting change. For this to happen, we need to have a self worth, an identity and a purpose in Him.

Andrea’s first core point was:

“Don’t be a Pharisee”

The Pharisees were ‘super religious’. Their entire basis to be was in how they kept the law perfectly. The problem with this is that they then became judges, looking down on those who didn’t do what they were doing. They were self righteous, and hypocritical, pedalling fake news. They were stirrers, trying to cause descent. This is seen in John 3, where they went to John the Baptist and said that Jesus was baptising more people than him. In response, John simply tells them that his joy is complete. When somebody comes to us with fake news, we need to ask ourselves if Jesus would say this. If it isn’t something we can imagine Jesus saying, then it isn’t of God. The Pharisees were so concerned with their own show, that it stopped being about God.

The truth is that when our service becomes about us, Jesus isn’t in it. ‘Pharisees’ seek to judge us for our lack of perfection, but we don’t need to worry about the outside, because God sees a man’s heart. We shouldn’t spend our time looking at people and thinking that we could do better. It is a fact that all people are a work in progress. Nobody but Jesus is all good. Nobody but Jesus is perfect, the best we can hope for is to pray that we do good and not bad. We need to not project our fears and insecurities on to others, but direct our challenges back to God. We can agree to disagree with people, but should not pick over others’ perceived wrongdoing. We are not there to tear another person down. God is in the process of making us holy, but if we do this, then He can’t help us.

Having said this, we must never let someone see we’re doing wrong, and turn around and tell them that it’s okay, because “I’ve got grace”. There is an imperative on us to behave in a certain way. We should not look for a reward, nor tear each other down. We are called to be as good, if not better at keeping the law than the Pharisees, but unlike them, we need to keep our hearts close to God. It is not our place to judge. This is only for God to do.

The second point is:

“Jesus is en route”

Whatever your breakthrough, remember this: the miracle you ask for is on the way. Looking at verses three and four of the passage of scripture, Jesus travels from Judea to Galilee, but in order to take the quickest route, He must go through Samaria. This is so important because when the Jews were in exile, they joined with the Samarians and became a mixed race. The Jews absolutely scorned the Samarians, so this was a big deal. Jesus could have gone around Samaria, but He didn’t. He won’t go around our issues, He goes through them. He goes through our pain to get to us. He will love us until the end of the ages and won’t let anything stop Him from getting to us. He doesn’t care about cultural issues, or any other barriers. He is there for us, always.

Andrea urged us to not ever think that what is important to us isn’t important to Jesus. Taking an illustration from Joshua, where the Priests were carrying the Ark of the Covenant, and God told them to go across the river Jordan, even though it was flooded. As the Priests were going into the river, they started praying, and then a miracle happened and the river became a trickle. The truth was that God had already started the miracle upstream. If we step out in faith, we will find that He has already made a way for us through any obstacles. The miracle is just upstream. Take, for example, the woman at the well. Jesus was already there, waiting for her. We must take this as a reminder to never lose hope.

Andrea’s third point was:

“Remember to make sure that you turn up”

When the Samaritan woman arrived at the well, Jesus was already there. This was Jacob’s well. This shows that Jesus will meet us at a place of promise; of rebirth; of restoration; of living water. Jesus doesn’t care what we have done culturally, He loves us anyway. The Samaritan woman was full of sin, and yet Jesus still spoke to her, and spent time with her. There is nothing so bad that Jesus’ grace can’t cover it. Physical restrictions mean nothing to Jesus. Whatever our past, guilt or shame, whatever we are chaining up inside, it can’t stop us from meeting Jesus. The beauty of it is that when we let go of these things, we find that He was already there. He won’t hold things against us.

Every one of us needs living water every day. We need to get to the place where we are content in Jesus. We need to stop limiting ourselves and just let it go, and then we can let our heart grow. We mustn’t get bitter about perceived losses, mustn’t let our hearts grow hard, all we need to do is to show up at the well to meet up with Jesus. The Samaritan woman did this and changed her entire village. Just imagine what we can do in our communities if we just show up, meet with Jesus and let His light shine out from our hearts.

 

Scripture: John 4:1-8

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What Is Worship? by Carys Morgan

February 13, 2018

On our first Worship Night, Carys, a worship leader from Life Church UK, spoke on “What is Worship?” Asking the congregation, suggestions of singing, connecting with God, and praising Jesus were given. The literal translation of the word “Worship” is “To honour, to adore, to exalt”. Some people worship sports teams, or musicians, or celebrities, etc – things that are important to them, but for us, the only thing we should be worshipping is Jesus.

 

John 4:24 tells us that we should worship in spirit and in truth. Carys went on to explain that when our soul connects with God, this is us worshipping in spirit, and when we connect with the word of God, is when we worship Him in truth. We are told that every word in the scriptures is God breathed. David worshipped in the word of God. This is seen in the Psalms, where he writes passages that can only come from that intimate connection with God. Worship can touch the most deep and intimate parts of us; the places that only He can reignite in our heart and soul. It is born of a deep relationship with Him.

Carys told us that worship should be a priority to us, and an essential part of our faith. We should worship because of who He is. Worship should NEVER be about us. If we’re entering worship for what we can get out of it, then we’re doing it wrong. It is ALL about God and bringing glory to Him. The truth is, that when we meet him in that most intimate place, God is so good that He allows us to get something out of it too. When our emotions align with our spirit, there will be times when we cry, smile, laugh, and even get on our knees. We can also find that some songs come to us at times in our life when we need them most. These are the times when they can affect us more, but this is God doing a work in us, as long as we are willing to let Him. We HAVE to remember that worship is not about us, and worship will only be good when we are Jesus centred; fully surrendered, and with our hearts completely open to Him.

Carys spoke about the practice of worship in a church setting, and how when we come in to the service, it can take us a while to get fully connected, and by that time, worship is almost over. She suggested that we should prepare, and come to worship ready and expectant for things to happen so that we have prepared our hearts and are ready to align with the spirit in the very first song. We need to live with anticipation and come to the service with the expectancy that God is going to move.

Another point raised was that of the leader of worship. Sometimes, we wait for the good parts of the song before we really begin to worship; the emotional parts of the song before we let go, but we don’t have to wait. We are our own greatest worship leader. We have to lead ourselves into it. It has to be a conscious decision on our part. No one can do it for us, and in the end, we are the ones who dictate our own level of worship. We seem to wait for these moments, but we just need to look to Him and focus on Him.

We can choose how deep we want to go and how much we want to give to God. We need to decide whether we want to be led by Him. In the end, we have to be the ones to make the decision to put ourselves down and to lift Him up, and we must make this decision whether life is good or bad. There will always be a reason for us not to give in and surrender to worship. Life gives us troubles and things that will get in our way.

We just need to see that true worship is all about how good God is. He sent His Son. He gave us Grace. He is Faithful, and He is Always There; Always Rooting For Us. We ALWAYS have a reason to worship BECAUSE of Him and who He is. We must remember to not look at Jesus through our circumstances. The Bible says that we are engraved on the palms of His hands. He is THAT good! When we think about it like that, how can we not worship Him. We have to worship Him and how amazing He is, because without Him, we are truly lost.

We must understand how to really worship and how we worship. This way, we can find our own place of worship. The truth is that God changes us when we learn to worship, and it is in this place that we can find the fullness of joy.

Carys shared with us some pathways to worship. Firstly, we must practice going into the presence of God daily. We must align our day and remember that we are going to worship Him that day, regardless of what we have going on. We must train ourselves, and our hearts. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and we must practice this, but when we do, our mind, heart, soul and spirit becomes aligned. Carys suggested some “easy wins” like listening to worship music while travelling, rather than just putting the radio on. If you can do this, you invite God into your heart and your day, and before you know it, you will feel better.

Let how good God is be your motivation. Come to worship with a willingness to be led. Surrender to Him and let Him lead you. Come with an attitude of gratitude. There is always something to be thankful for, even if it is just our breath.

We are called to bring a sacrifice of worship. We are called to cast our burdens on Him; to take everything and give it to Him. The truth is that you can’t worry and worship at the same time. When you truly worship, you forget your problems. They all fizzle out in His presence, because it is in His presence that we can find the fullness of joy. In worship, our baggage just ceases to be.

Going back to David, when he is writing in Psalms, he goes from one extreme to the other because he gets into the presence of God. He gets into a situation of extreme worship, which is something that we really need. We must surrender our lives. If we let our lives be worship, then we are constantly exalting God in everything we do, and we are allowing God to shape us, and then we will truly see how much joy is to be found in the presence of God.

Scripture: John 4:24

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Light Up The World Part Three by Pastor Phylip Morgan

February 11, 2018

Beginning his third and final part in the series, “Light Up The World”, based on our memory verse of the year, 2Corinthians 4:6,  Pastor Phyl speaks on the light of the world, which is us. Beginning his sermon, he refers us to a book by Mark Sanborn, titled, “The Fred Factor”. In this book, Mark Sanborn talks about his postal carrier, and the way in which this ordinary looking man, went on to do simple things to help. His attitude to customer service stretched far beyond the normal boundaries. Mark Sanborn encourages us, in his book, to be more like Fred. Pastor Phyl challenges this in his sermon and encouraged us to be a little more like Jesus.

Speaking from his text for today, taken from Matthew 5:14-16,

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Pastor Phyl used the illustration of the lamp under a bowl to show us that we need to use our gifts for the purpose of glorifying God. He gives us a light, and it is our duty as followers of Christ, to shine that light out into the world.

In the nineties, the slogan “What Would Jesus Do” became popular. The truth is that now, we don’t need to think this, but instead, should prompt ourselves to BLJ (Be Like Jesus). We don’t need to wonder what He would do, because He lives in our hearts. We do not need to live a life of strict “Religion”, we simply need to be like Him, “doing good” and helping people just as we are told Jesus did in Acts 10:34-48.

Lighting the lamp, Pastor Phyl spoke of how ridiculous it would be to then put a bowl over it, blotting out almost all of the light. The truth is that God wants us to be in relationship with Him, and we will then have no choice but to let our light shine. Pastor Phyl used text from James 2:14-26, to show us how we may do this. The truth is that we can let our light shine in such seemingly small insignificant things. The only thing we need really do is love on people, and if we do this, then our light will have no choice but to shine out.

We must accept everyone. We are all part of a family tree of believers and letting our light shine in the same way Jesus did, simply involves going around, doing good, just as Jesus did in Acts. We should “be a nice human”, treating others as we would wish to be treated ourselves.

One way in which we can let our light shine is to live a good life. We must live out the Ten Commandments, and the fruits of the spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We are called to use our gifts to serve. God has given us all individual gifts for a purpose, and it is up to us to use them for the furthering of His Kingdom. We must “BE SALT AND LIGHT”. When you are in a position to do good, do it! Do not withhold your light from others, because when you do,  you withhold your light from God, too.

Never underestimate the power that’s in the light. The light is powered by God, and if you let your light shine, then God will do amazing things.

 

Bibliography: “The Fred Factor” Mark Sanborn

Scriptures: 2Corinthians 4:6, Matthew 5:14-16, Acts 10:34-48, Philippians 2:5, James 2:14-26, Galatians 5:19-26, Proverbs 3:27-28, James 4:17.

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What I Say Goes by Sammy Davies

February 4, 2018

Speaking from Isaiah 46, our guest speaker, Sammy Davies, from Ammanford Evangelical Church discussed God’s sovereignty. It is interesting that sovereignty is not mentioned directly in this passage at all, and yet, this is exactly what we are taught about. This chapter from Isaiah works by showing us God’s sovereignty, rather than by telling us that He is sovereign. Bel and Nebo are used as examples in this segment of scripture, of things that we put in our lives instead of God; of things we put our trust in (positions, power, authority), when we should be trusting in God. There are so many things that we put in God’s place. We can say positive things about Him, but it is only when we put Him against the backdrop of what He has done that we can see how truly amazing He is.

Isaiah 46 uses Bel and Nebo to show us the contrast between them and God, effectively saying that everything they are, God is not, and vice versa. They are statues, and therefore, are a literal burden. They are images that have to be carried around from place to place. God is living, and is incomparable to these. Idols are not rescuers, they weigh us down and add to our problems. God, however, does everything that the people were expected to do for these idols, and He does it for us. Bel and Nebo need care and maintenance that God never needs. They can’t move or answer, or save them from their troubles, and they only exist because someone else has made them, whereas there is only one God, and there is NO ONE like Him.

God makes known the end from the beginning. He works very much on a “What I say goes” principle. He is sovereign and needs no advice. He doesn’t work off a committee or a vote, and He seeks no feedback. He keeps His own counsel and is free to make His own decisions. Everything is up to God. Nothing is up to Bel and Nebo. Everything is up to God. He has the power to achieve. He has the power to decide things. Bel and Nebo have neither the strength, nor the power to carry things out, but God does.

Sammy went on to say that ideas are all well and good, but without people to carry them out, they are useless, however, God doesn’t need someone else to do what he has decided. He doesn’t need to go elsewhere, but He delights in His helpers. It pleases Him to use other people to achieve His ends. He invites help even if it slows the process.

Sometimes, we have trials in life, and it is at these times that we can find ourselves questioning God. Why does He let bad things happen? Maybe God isn’t as loving as he claims to be. The truth is that we must remain consistent and calm. There is good news – God is going to rescue us. His righteousness will be brought near to us. Salvation is the proof of God saying “What I Say Goes”. God has already decided our paths, and no matter what we say or do, the Father, Son and Spirit stay the same. People may try to derail God’s plans, but He won’t let it happen.

Jesus decided to rescue us. He was tempted, but He said “No”. He had already decided what He was going to do and nothing could stop Him from carrying out the Father’s plan. He laid down His life, and He took it up again. He is the same God from Isaiah 46. God says “What I say goes” and He wants to rescue us. Even though we are stubborn and rebellious, He rescued us: His enemies, and redeemed us to Himself.

So, in closing, are you willing to put aside your own idols, remember the phrase “What I say goes”, and put God at the center of your lives?

 

Scripture: Isaiah 46

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