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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

1 Peter1:8&9 What is true joy?



Praise to God for a Living Hope
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.



Introduction:
The word that we have read are the words of the Apostle Peter. They were intended to encourage his readers and as we read them some 2000 years later we are struck by the emotion that they portray.
We are reminded that the writer just a few years earlier was a humble fisherman who met Jesus and was elevated to being a son of the living God. He was converted in much the same way as all of us Christians in this room have been. It is by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who is God the Son that we are saved. He became a shame before God on our behalf by taking the sins of all of His children upon Himself and taking the punishment that we deserve. It was more than a death upon a cross; many other innocent victims died such a death but could not accomplish forgiveness of sins for themselves let alone for the entire church. Jesus death was a shame to God; He cannot have sin in His presence and so for God the Son to become as if He were the worst of all sinners was an abomination to God. Due to this Jesus invoked the whole perfect wrath of God upon Himself which means that the wrath that we deserve has been redirected or (if you want to be theological about it) propitiated. We are completely forgiven of all of our sin and so we are a very special people but so often we do not live in the light of what we have become. Peter was a man who knew how much he had been forgiven; remember his encounter with Jesus after the resurrection! He was re-instated by Jesus after he had been quizzed as to how much he truly loved the Lord. That incident brought deep sorrow to his heart but taught him how to write these words that we have before us. Are you forgiven? Do you love as you ought to love? Let us consider briefly what Peter teaches and be inspired to be what God demands of us!

v  You have not seen Him. But.
You do love Him.
We are different to Peter. He did see Jesus! Ever since Jesus ascended into heaven people have been saved by faith but not by sight. Peter’s seeing Jesus did not save him it was his faith in Jesus as Lord that brought salvation. It is by the Word that we know about Him, it is the application of truth into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we believe in Him and it is by God’s grace that we are saved by Him and so Peter reminds us that even though we do not see Him we really ought to love Him.
But do you?
What does love for Jesus look like? I have over the years seen much of what love for Jesus is portrayed to be. In some circles it is hippy-love! What do I mean by that? Remember the days of flowers in the air, the end of war and free love towards all. Mostly drug induced soppy sentimentalism!

"All You Need Is Love"
Love, love, love (X3)
There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy

Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

Nothing you can know that isn't known
Nothing you can see that isn't shown
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

All you need is love (All together, now!)
All you need is love (Everybody!)
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Yee-hai! (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)

Yesterday (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Love is all you need (Love is all you need)
Oh yeah! (Love is all you need)
She loves you, yeah yeah yeah (Love is all you need)
She loves you, yeah yeah yeah (Love is all you need)
This type of sentiment has infiltrated the church and so we can all live out a dream that says everything is well and we end up singing dreamy love songs to Jesus with our hands waving like trees and our eyes looking into the back of our heads making us look more like zombies than lovers of Jesus. Well of course that is not the problem with us here but we are equally prone to displaying false love. Read the reformers and the puritans: they knew about heart felt love for God!
As reformed believers emotions are so well and truly planted into our pockets. How much have we been forgiven, our great and wonderful theology tells us plainly. Does it not move yours hearts?
"In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long before the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long before the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being --- when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, where there was nothing save God alone --- even then, in that loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, His heart moved with love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world --- even from eternity! and when He called me by His grace, He said to me, 'I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee’”

- C. H. Spurgeon said that. God’s love through Jesus is set upon us; do we truly reciprocate His love to us or is our love a careless love? It is pathetic to see the face of a parent who loves their child but the child has only contempt for them. God must feel broken by our lack of true love for Him!

v  You cannot see Him. But:  You believe in Him.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen!”
We are so often told that if only God would reveal Himself, if only He would leave heaven, come to earth and visit us then we would believe. That is utter clap-trap, He did come and even His own would not receive Him. Jesus the very representation of God become man and man not only would not believe in Him but they murdered Him. Jesus will only be believed if a work of grace has already taken place. It is a gift of God: Ephesians 1:8-9 “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
The gospel has done its work in our hearts therefore we believe in Him. We believe in all that He is, all that He has done and all that He is yet to do. We believe that he is the creator of all things that has brought to life our dead souls and has made us alive in Him. We may not see Him until we have done with this life and we are transported into the presence of the Father. Our guide on that day will be our Saviour Jesus who will present us to God who will see righteousness given by the One carrying the scars of sacrifice.
We believe this don’t we??
Do you?
You have not seen Him but you love Him and you believe in Him.  

The result being:
v  You are filled with joy beyond compare! Because: The end is coming.
Joy unspeakable fills every part
Life is wonderful, yes it's wonderful
Life is wonderful now to me
I let Jesus in, He changed everything
Life is wonderful now.
Since His blessings came into my heart
Joy unspeakable fills every part
Now I want to live for my Lord
Life is wonderful now.

I can pick holes in the theology; in parts it is plain wrong but the one thing that it can teach us is about Joy. Joy unspeakable; do you know what that means?
That is what Peter is saying that salvation means to Him and it is what it ought to mean to us. There is no room for manic Jesus loves me grins but joy unspeakable is what we have. How does that come out? Jesus for the joy of the Lord which was set before Him beyond the cross endured the pain, suffering and rejection of death! It was a joy to Jesus.
What is our joy? Belonging to Him eternally, does that not at least warm your heart even if it cannot raise a smile?

Rejoice, the Lord is King! Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals give thanks and sing, and triumph evermore;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Jesus, the Savior, reigns, the God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains He took His seat above;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

His kingdom cannot fail, He rules o’er earth and Heav’n,
The keys of death and hell are to our Jesus giv’n;
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

He sits at God’s right hand till all His foes submit,
And bow to His command, and fall beneath His feet:
Lift up your heart, lift up your voice;
Rejoice, again I say, rejoice!

Rejoice in glorious hope! Jesus the Judge shall come,
And take His servants up to their eternal home.
We soon shall hear th’archangel’s voice;
The trump of God shall sound, rejoice!

1 Corinthians 16:5-18 Onward and upward we go



After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labours at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Introduction:
Ø  Writer: The Apostle Paul.
Ø  Corinth: A church in disarray.
Ø  Purpose: To instruct the church in right ways.
Ø  Issues: Selfishness, pride, arrogance, deviation from the truth, acceptance of error, and complacency.
Ø  Remedy: Come back to the truth and encouragement to do the right thing.
The church in Corinth are a people who are in trouble. They are reeling over sin in their midst. They have made bad decisions and are suffering the consequences of their actions. They have come to the attention of the Apostle Paul who has had to rebuke them for their ways in this letter. They need instructing as to how they accept Timothy and Apollos and also Paul himself. They also needed to be told that in their midst was Stephanas and his believing family who they should take notice of and be like rather than being the worldly Christians that they had become. It is interesting that in in middle of Paul’s pleas he gives them some incredibly powerful and important advice: 
He urges them to stand firm in bible truth and to deal with error whilst at the same time caring for the purity of the gospel and of the church.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
There are five instructions here that ought to be the motto of every church and every Christian in all times. If we can just live by these five rules then the church and every individual Christian would always please the Lord our God.
I know that there are issues here in Ogmore-by-Sea. It is not because somebody has been telling tales out of school but simply because there are always issues in all churches and in all of our lives. We should all want to glorify the Lord Jesus in all that we do. That of course is vitally important for us as individuals but I would say that in some ways it is more so for the church. But yet at times it seems to be that like Corinth we pass by serious difficulties and errors in the church as if it really does not matter but focus in on secondary issues as of vital importance.
Problems within the church or the family of God ought to bring tears to our eyes.
When last did you weep over the state of the church? More to the point when last did you weep over the state of Ogmore-by-Sea Evangelical church? I put it to you that there is much to weep over. We might not have sunk to the depths that the church in Corinth had but there are things both in the church and in our personal lives that are in contradiction to God’s directives for us. It is simply not good enough for us to say that this is because we are human and that we are still under the influence of sin. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, not in order to sit and bask in easy believism but to glorify God, in the church and in our personal lives! This passage tells how that we must accomplish this. It is not a suggestion at the end of a nice little letter from Paul; it is final instructions at the end of a hard hitting letter that addressed the serious errors of Corinthian ways.
So what do we learn?
In order to protect the church we must:
1.      Be on our guard.
2.      Stand firm.
3.      Be courageous.
4.      Be strong.
5.      Do all of this in love.
As we read this we cannot help but think of Joshua, which is exactly what Paul intended! Moses had died and Joshua had been promoted by God to lead the people of His people. As you can imagine he felt insecure. Moses had been such a great pastor; how on earth can Joshua follow in his footsteps? But God commissioned Joshua to be himself and not to attempt to be another Moses! Therefore God instructed him in the way that he was to go (just as Paul is doing in this letter):
Read Joshua 1:1-9
Joshua Installed as Leader
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide:  “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
The Old Testament is where Paul learned all of his theology and so this incident along with many others in the Old Testament is what spurred him on to instruct Corinth in the way that he did. There are similarities between Joshua’s circumstance and that of the leaders of the Corinthian church. They were both to lead a rebellious people to do exactly what God commands in order that He might bless them as He wants.
It is the same for the church in all times therefore we must:
1: Be on our guard.
There was much in Corinth that had happened because the leaders had taken their eye off the ball. I was recently teaching Nathaniel to catch a ball. He had become frustrated because he just could not do it. His problem was that he had “policeman eyes” they were everywhere and so he had no focus. All that I did was to keep on telling him to keep his eye on the ball. When he did then: success! He had got it. He can now catch.
That is what Paul is saying to the church. Keep your eye on the important things.
What are they?
Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
It is not popular today but it is absolutely necessary, the bible is our guide, take your eye off the bible and you will never “catch the blessing!” Blessing comes from obedience to God’s expressed word. Keep the Word ever before you, both here in the church (elders you are responsible for that whatever others might demand) and in your personal life. If you want to know why you’re spiritual life is dull and why you are missing the blessing.
You HAVE taken your eye off the bible!
Be on your guard!
But also:
2: Stand firm:
That does not necessarily mean stand still! We have just considered the importance of guarding the word of truth. Again from our passage in Joshua we can learn what Paul means when he said “Stand firm!”
 Look at verse 7:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armour on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies through His eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand firm do not move from the truth. That is not popular today but then again it never was. It will not make you popular with men and sadly at times with other Christians also but nevertheless it is vital! Corinth got into a desperate mess because nobody stood firm on the truth of the word. What will you do here in OBSEC? Leaders you will be under pressure to do all sorts of things but you must:
Stand firm!
Whilst guarding the truth and standing firm you must also:

3: Be courageous and be strong:
Joshua was not only told to stand for the truth; he also must be courageous with the truth. What Canaan needed most in Joshua’s day was to be occupied by God’s people and for  that to be accomplished Joshua not only had to be on his guard and to stand firm in the truth but he was to act upon the truth.
Look at verse 6:
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.”
And verse 9:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Be bold, be strong
For the Lord your God is with you
Be bold, be strong
For the Lord your God is with you
I am not afraid
I am not dismayed
Because I'm walking in faith and victory
Come on and walk in faith and victory
For the Lord your God is with you!
The Lord our God is with us in a way that Joshua could only look forward to. Emmanuel has come; the Lord Jesus Christ is the captain of our guard. He is with us and He is leading us on into victory. He has called us to occupy our land for the good of the population. Just as Canaan needed to be occupied by Israel so this world needs the church. But let us be more focussed, Ogmore-by-Sea needs you. Remember Kitchener during the Great war had his picture all over the place declaring to the population; “we need you!” Ogmore-by-Sea needs Jesus. You are a representation of Jesus to them, you have the word of life and hope and help. You must be bold, strong and courageous. You must occupy the land by going into the community with words of eternal life. The children’s work is a start, the Monday fellowship is exciting but there are more in our community than young and old. How do we bring the word of life into our community? We must walk in faith and in the promise of victory; we are on the victory side:
On the victory side, on the victory side
No foe can harm me; no fear can alarm me,
We are on the victory side.
On the victory side, on the victory side
With Christ within, the fight we will win.
We are on the victory side.
Do we believe that? Will we be bold, strong and courageous? Paul tells us to be watchful, to stand firm and to be strong! Remember that we are on the victory side.
There is one final instruction for us to consider:


4: All of this must be done in love!
Joshua went into Canaan in judgement; the people of Canaan had overstepped the mark! We have a very different ministry. It is still one of judgement but it is with the offer of grace and mercy. For Canaan it was too late, they had had their chance but it is different in our world today we are in a day of grace and so we go in love. Not with sloppy sentimental eyes looking into heaven a type of starry eyed gospel but we go with the authority of God to declare His  judgement upon sin but also with an offer of grace for the forgiveness of sin. Joshua had the sword of judgement but we have the gospel of salvation.
The love that Paul is referring to here is the love that Jesus has.
Jesus’ love is threefold:
He has
Ø  Love for His Father.
Ø  Love for His people.
Ø  Love for the world.
Our love is to be the same. Do you Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul, mind and strength? Is He your passion, read the gospels and see how Jesus loved the Father; and NOW be like Jesus!
Do you love God’s people? That is the church. Look around you now, who is it that you do not love. You are failing Jesus, put it right!
(Why not pray for that person right now?)
We are reminded that Jesus said that all people would know that we are His disciples by the true love that we have for one another. That again is real love and in no way hairy fairly slop. Read about how Jesus loved His Father and His people and also the church which at times required serious rebuke and even a whipping. Paul earlier in this letter had to threaten a visit that would be unpleasant because true love is blatantly honest and not always pleasant but it is always fair and done with love.
Are you really honest; fair and loving with each other?
When we have that love for each other then we must also:
Love the world! Do you love the lost with a gospel love? They need the gospel and you are their missionaries. What are you doing for them? If nothing then you are simply displaying your utter contempt for them.
I do pray that God will bless us all as we seek to glorify Him in all that we are.
Onward and upward we go.
Amen.