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Saturday, 23 January 2016

Acts part 19: Partnership in the gospel.

Building the right foundation part 19

Acts 9: 26-31 “Partnership in the gospel.”

When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

This will be the last of our studies in Acts as related to our theme of “Building the right foundation.” The purpose of our series is to consider how we as the church here in East Cornwall operate in the 21st century. The church was established here in the 1960's and has been blessed over the years. There have of course been times of great blessing and as we know there have also been times of disappointment and problems. It is not our purpose to dwell either on the good or the bad times but we have the opportunity to draw a line in the sand on all that has gone before and to start with a new beginning. The church must never stand still because gospel witness is organic, it is alive and is the responsibility of the church. It is through our gospel witness that we make disciples of men, women, boys and girls.
Some have asked when we are going to re-start toddlers, Sunday school and a whole host of other activities. My simple answer to those questions is that we are not doing so at this moment because there are some fundamental issues that we have to concern ourselves with first. I deliberately put out my little motto card before Christmas which simply quoted Jesus' command to come aside and rest a while. The church needs to rest in the assurance that Jesus is in control of all that we are. He has allowed all that has gone before and therefore has brought us to the point that we find ourselves in today.
In fact where we are today is a similar situation that the church in Jerusalem and Saul of Tarsus were experiencing in our reading. By this time Saul had been a witnessing believer for quite a while as we discovered in our last study. The one thing that was missing was his fellowship in the gospel with the church in Jerusalem and so Paul was keen to join the church. The church was understandably suspicious of Saul's motives and so the leaders had rejected his advances. There was then logically a confusion and a stand off between the church and Saul. Their situation and ours is not the same but of similar order in that before the church in Jerusalem could advance and move on into the next phase of it's ministry, reconciliation had to take place. God had to do something to resolve the difference.
Similarly I believe that God has to resolve a number of issues in the church here in Callington before we can progress to the next phase of our gospel ministry together. For this reason over the next few weeks our ministry will be applied to the church covenant document that all members agree to before they join the church. You should all have received a copy of this document as you arrived this morning. The first point in the covenant is:
In the name of The Lord Jesus Christ. On the basis of his gospel and the written Word, and in humble reliance on his saving grace in our lives, we covenant together to be a congregation of believers, part of the global and eternal people of God, the body or Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit. We gather to encourage one another to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, by seeking the continual filling of the Holy Spirit for holiness and by exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit in ministry.
The promise we make as members of the church is to support and encourage each other to grow together and to encourage one another in the gospel. This then leads to our joint ministry as led by the Holy Spirit of God. When all of this is in place then we can develop the work of the church together as directed by God's Spirit. It is not about starting things but getting a secure foundation in place before activity. It would be ludicrous to think that Roger would put the lift in first before he has done all of the foundational work that he is currently working on. There currently needs to be a supporting beam put in place that is strong enough to take the weight of the lift. That takes careful calculation and the correct purchase. Equally the foundation of the church must be in place first for the ministry of the church to develop. That is exactly what we see in the passage before us.
For the church in Jerusalem the last Apostle needed to be in place. How did that work out? There needed to be a son of encouragement to bring the two opposing factions together.
This morning we will briefly consider:
  1. Saul's desire.
  2. The church's fear.
  3. Barnabas' ministry.

Saul's desire:
Saul's greatest desire was to belong, he had been commissioned by the Lord to take the gospel to the Gentiles but he knew that he could not do that in isolation. He needed to be a part of the church. He needed to belong in the same way that he had always needed to belong to Judaism. God set a pattern of belonging to each other as His people when He called Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees. He promised that through Abraham He would bring about a family of faith. A people who belong together as brothers and sisters. We see that family come into being through Isaac and then Jacob who were the forefathers of the family nation of Israel. The fulfilment of Israel is realised by the church which Jesus calls His family and also His body. The reality is that Christians belong together in Christ and in covenant to each other. I am so pleased that the church here has a covenant and that we all as members agree to adhere to it. The only problem with it is that we do not focus on it enough. For that reason we will be affirming our commitment to our covenant in our next church members meeting. For this reason we will consider the implications of the covenant over the next few weeks.
The first point of our covenant is how we belong to each other. Saul had a great desire to belong to the church in Jerusalem, he wanted to be a member of their congregation and also to be in free fellowship with them. Church membership as many believe is not something of a modern invention it is evident throughout scripture this passage being a classic example. Saul set the pattern for the ongoing church and so like him we must belong to each other but:
Do we?
If you are not a member of the church I would ask why not? We can have all sorts of theological and practical ideals as to why not but they will not stand up to the scrutiny of scripture. Saul desperately wanted to join the church in Jerusalem and therefore he made every effort to join them. So far he had failed because the church was unwilling to accept him.
Why not take Saul's example and join us in covenanted fellowship?
The Church's fear:
We fully understand the fear of the church, Saul had done them so much harm but he was now a changed man and he belonged with them. In fact God had appointed him to be an Apostle and a leader in the church. The church at that time did not appreciate that and so they had to learn to discern and submit to God's leading in this matter.
But it is so hard.
Accepting the unlovely into the church has always been a great difficulty. Peter and James interviewed Saul and were not convinced. It is always right that the leaders interview those who wish to join and for the leaders to make a decision. The example we have before us shows that leaders can make mistakes. I am grateful that the church at that time was open enough for the issue to be raised again after they had initially made a big mistake. They could not believe and trust Saul's testimony and therefore they acted by their conscience. In turn Saul did not go off in a huff as some might but he waited for God to lead in a different way and to resolve the issue.
At times we are bound to make decisions that are wrong. We are likely to accept some who are not yet converted and may reject others who are. Just as the great Apostle Peter got it wrong then we are equally likely to so. This proves that local church membership does not guarantee the salvation of all members.
This is where our covenant comes in once again.
We should regularly confirm together that we agree with all that it says and so from now on it will become a vital part of our members meetings. It is then up to each member to honestly take stock of their situation and to either agree to adhere to it or to absent yourself from membership.
Saul knew that he belonged and greatly desired to be an active member of the church. The church could not see that and so they needed a moderator. Enter Barnabas:

Barnabas' ministry:
See what happened next; Barnabas took Saul to the leaders. Barnabas could see the problem, he knew that Saul was a converted man and he that he could do something to bring him into fellowship with the church.
What a man!
How we need men and women of wisdom like Barnabas who are moderators within the church today. Our church so needs members who are so committed to the fellowship and to each other that they are willing to put themselves on the line in order to bring about a right change. Barnabas was committed to the needs of the church in Jerusalem. He had a reputation of encouraging the church. Remember it was he who earlier had sold a piece of land for the benefit of needy Christians, now he is responsible for bringing Saul into fellowship. His greatest desire was for the greater good of all the church.
That is what church membership is all about.
I get angry when people tell me that church membership is a closed society akin to the Mason's. If that is your view then you must repent of it immediately. Church membership is here in the Mustard Seed is open to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and are living by faith in Him. If we as leaders believe that to be the case for anybody then the church will accept them as part of us, whoever and whatever they are. We are to encourage them into fellowship and to help them to growth in grace, faith and witness. We work together to encourage and build each other up. That is what our covenant demands of us and that is exactly what we intend to do together.
There is also another side to the coin. Christians who are not members are putting themselves outside of the fellowship, they are not covenanted to us and so therefore how can we care for them properly. If you are one of these I urge you to deal with it today. What is it that really prevents you from joining. The scripture does not allow lone ranger Christians, your own personal preference may do so but where personal preference is at odds with scripture then it is sin and needs to be repented of.
If we want to move forward as the Mustard Seed then we must first of all bring this most important issue to the fore and deal with it. It is vital for us both as individuals and corporately as the church. God has set us in this place in order that we make disciples of people, we cannot do that if we are disunited. This does not leave room for carping, unfair criticism, gossip and slander. If you have something to say about a brother or sister if you have not told them first do not dare tell others. Fellowship is all about caring for each other which means that if another believer has done something to offend you then you are duty bound to tell them first. Then if that does not have the required effect then and only then it is right to go elsewhere, not for gossip but to rightly deal with the problem.
It is amazing that I so often hear about the things I say, or write wrongly through a third person and often weeks after the original error. If I spell something wrong or say or do something wrong please do not tut in your pew and talk to your neighbour about it without first telling me. Honesty will be build me up, gossip will destroy me. It is the same for all of us let us put aside petty squabbles and do what our covenant demands:
In the name of The Lord Jesus Christ. On the basis of his gospel and the written Word, and in humble reliance on his saving grace in our lives, we covenant together to be a congregation of believers, part of the global and eternal people of God, the body or Christ and the fellowship of the Spirit. We gather to encourage one another to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, by seeking the continual filling of the Holy Spirit for holiness and by exercising the gifts of the Holy Spirit in ministry.

One final observation: As soon as Saul joined the church, he was about his gospel ministry in and around Jerusalem and then when things became difficult for him the church cared for him and supported him. An amazing turn around! From a position of stalemate to clear gospel progress. That is what we need to aim for as the church here. Who knows what the next new church member might bring or do to the church!

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Jesus said: “I am the Good Shepherd.”

John 10:11-18

Jesus in discussion with the Pharisees said:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

John records these events after Jesus had healed a man who had been born blind. The Pharisees had looked into the healing and had declared Jesus to be in error because he had healed the man on the Sabbath. Our passage is part of Jesus' discussion with the Pharisees. He had already used the sheep pen and the sheep as an illustration in his discourse. He had been referring to God's people as His sheep and Himself as the gate which keeps His sheep in safety over night whilst they were locked safely away in the fold. The Pharisees did not understand His illustration and so Jesus moved into territory that they really should have understood. That is the Good Shepherd! There are many occasions in the Old Testament that God refers to Himself as a Shepherd and His people as His sheep. Two examples are:
Ezekiel 34:11-12 For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.
Isaiah 40:10-11 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
The Pharisees were expert theologians and as such were scholars of the Old Testament scriptures. They knew exactly what Jesus was implying by the “I am” statement especially as Jesus linked it to the shepherd theme. God's people were historically a nation of sheep farmers. Abraham the father of the nation was a sheep farmer as was Isaac and Jacob but there is an even more famous shepherd in the scripture. David was a shepherd boy when God called him to be king. It was because of this background that when Jesus' listeners heard Him declare that He was the Good Shepherd there was much confusion. They knew that He was taking to Himself a title that was reserved for God. In their confusion some claimed Him to be devilish and mad!
When Jesus spoke those words “I am” many would immediately relate what he was saying to the time when at a burning bush in the desert God met with Moses. Moses asked what God's name was the reply being “I am who I am!” Moses was to tell all that it was “I am” who was his authority. I am is Yahweh, the special name of God. God as we have seen reveals Himself to be the Shepherd of His people who are simply like sheep.
Therefore the combination of I am and Good Shepherd is conclusive.
It should have been like a trigger in the mind that reminded Jesus' hearers on that day of all of the Shepherd passages of scripture. What Jesus was declaring was that he fulfilled all that the Old Testament promised of God as Shepherd. The wording of the phrase “I am the Good Shepherd” is also important. We are at a disadvantage using English because we have one word for good and it has been downgraded to a soft and weak moral goodness. In Greek which is the language of the New Testament there are at least two words used for goodness:
  1. Agathos from which we get the name Agatha which simply means morally good as we are used to.
  2. Kalos which is the word that Jesus used on this occasion means to be good not only in the sense of moral quality, but it is a more encompassing word. It means to be beautiful, to be magnificent, to be winsome, to be attractive, to be lovely, to be excellent on all levels, not just in that which is unseen in terms of character, but in all aspects. I am the shepherd, the excellent one is the order that Jesus spoke making the emphasis more emphatic. I am the shepherd, be it the lovely one, the beautiful one, as contrasted in the passage by Jesus to “kakos” the ugly ones, the dangerous ones. Jesus was quite deliberate in what He was saying which in effect is “I Am the unique one and only Good Shepherd” as he addressed the ugly ones who are wolves in sheep's clothing.
The logical Shepherd passage that comes to mind is of course Psalm 23 where the shepherd king David speaks of God as his Shepherd. Let us consider briefly how Jesus fulfils all that Psalm 23 speaks of:
1) The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
Isaiah 40:11 says that God tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.
Just think of our Lord's ministry whilst here on earth, how he loved and cared for His disciples and for the people who followed Him. On at least two occasions He saw a large hungry crowd and had pity on them and miraculously fed them. At the tomb of His good friend Lazarus the tears of the grieving sisters caused the shortest verse in our bibles to be recorded. Jesus wept! Jesus tended superbly His little flock of 12 disciples and a number of ladies who were always with Him.
He also gathered them to Himself, we remember after His death and resurrection Jesus gathered His disciples to Himself, he made breakfast for them and comforted them in many ways. He carried them close to His heart in fact He promised that he would never leave them nor forsake them. He promised to be with His people ALWAYS.
But there is more:
He cares for the youngsters, for those that have young. That is for the ongoing church. For those who like the disciples have been born again of the Spirit of God. God continues to care Always! That means that he is caring for His people today, Christian that is you and me, the Good Shepherd is holding us close to His heart in whatever circumstances that we find ourselves in. It was he who said to His disciples in the storm to come to Him and he will give peace. Our Good Shepherd leads us, rests us, cares for us feeds us, refreshes us and leads us in the right way that will take us eternally into heaven.

2) He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
He guides His people: Again we consider the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus. Just consider the number of times that he guided His disciples. One time springs immediately to mind is leading up to His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. He guided the disciples to a certain place to where the donkey that He would ride on would be ready and prepared for Him. He also guided the owner to release the animal for service to the Lord. A week later he guided the disciples to find a room prepared for Him to celebrate the very last passover meal. He led His people in the right way in those days and He continues to do so today.
What are the right paths?
Remember how when He first met His disciples He called them to forsake everything else and follow Him. They followed Him to the cross and then to his tomb and then to the place of His ascension into heaven and from there throughout their lives and finally into heaven to be with Him eternally. The Good Shepherd leads His people along the right path of salvation!

3) Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Prior to His resurrection the disciples were a scared and defeated group of people but after Jesus had ascended into heaven and the Holy Spirit had come upon them they were fearless!
What is it that had happened?

Acts 1:4-9 records the facts for us:

On one occasion, while Jesus 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. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’
Then they gathered round him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’
He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
As Jesus departed from this world He promised that He would send God the Spirit to be with His people to embolden them and to help them in all things; and that is exactly what happened. Immediately after the coming of the Spirit Peter was a changed man. Instead of being scared for his life he immediately declared Jesus fearlessly for which he eventually became a witness or martyr for Jesus. As did the rest of the disciples apart from John who died in his old age.
The Good Shepherd promises to be with His people especially in the darkest of times. Any one who has witnessed the death of a believer can witness to the fact that the Good Shepherd is there in a very special way escorting a saint into the presence of God the Father. We can be assured that Our Good Shepherd will never leave us nor will He forsake us. He has us safely gathered into His pen, He is tour protector and none can ever remove us from His safe keeping.
This is the most wonderful promise mad e to us we are saved by Him, protected and kept by Him for all of eternity.

4) You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

And then in the twinkling of the eye we are in the presence of Jesus who said:

John 14:1-4

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’
The Pharisees did not want Jesus to be who he claimed to be but He was!
They did not want this kind of Saviour even though Jesus is exactly who God had promised!
The Good Shepherd sacrifices His own life for the life of the sheep, what a wonderful Saviour is Jesus my Lord!
He is not like the hired hands (the Pharisees and the other blind guides of Israel) Jesus didn't abandon His sheep, He paid the ultimate price to rescue them.
He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep. That in itself is amazing; God the Son knows His people. In fact He knows us intimately even down to minor details like the number of hairs on our heads.
But there is more in that we as His sheep know Him. We are related to Him by adoption, called into His family and as such we are heirs and co-heirs of heaven with Christ. We not only know Him we also belong to him and we will always be with Him.
His sheep are gathered from all over the globe from every age that has been and is to come! And we all belong not only to Him but we also belong to each other. We are all one in Christ Jesus as one flock, that is the church universal. All listening to the Word of God which is the voice of Jesus!
Do you love to hear His voice?
The Good Shepherd was sent by God to call out the people of God from every walk of life on planet earth. His work will continue until every one of them is called by name as was the Apostle Paul whilst still Saul of Tarsus, Jesus called from heaven Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me and Saul was converted.
He knows us by name even whilst we are still sinners, he loves and calls His people by name! Has He called


Saturday, 2 January 2016

What is true joy?

1 Peter 1:8-9

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.

1 Peter 1:3-12

The passage that we have read are the words of the Apostle Peter which were intended to encourage his readers. As we read them some 2000 years later we are struck by the emotion of the passage.
We are reminded that the writer just a few years earlier was a humble fisherman who met Jesus, from that meeting Peter was slowly becoming a new man. He was converted in much the same way as all Christians are. It is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ who is God the Son that Peter witnessed that he was saved.

Jesus on the cross 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 of a man upon a cross; many other innocent victims have died such a death but none of them could not accomplish forgiveness of sins for themselves let alone for the entire church.

Jesus' became shameful to God who 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 the result of which means that the wrath that we deserve has been redirected from us or (if you want the theological term: propitiated.) God's anger is turned away from us and was fully directed to His One and Only Son. Due to His sacrifice we are completely forgiven of all of our sin making us to be a very special people. In the light of this it is surprising that we do not live as we ought as Christians.

Peter was a man who fully appreciated how much he had been forgiven. Remember how Jesus showed him what true love is all about. Whilst Jesus was on trial Peter had denied with curses that he had ever known Jesus. 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 Peter's heart but it was the foundation these words that we have before us.

Are you forgiven?

Do you love Jesus as you ought to love? Let us consider briefly what Peter teaches and as such be encouraged to be the church that God demands of us!

It could be said that Peter loved Him because he saw Him. There is a lot in that but Peter in our verse is saying that Christians Do really love Him even without the evidence of sight.

You have not seen Him. But: You do love Him.”

We are different to Peter. He did see Jesus and we have not! 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 him 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. 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 hair, 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 sentimentality has infiltrated the church in particular many of the songs that are sung. We can all live out a dream that says everything is well and we end up singing dreamy love songs to Jesus. Well of course that is not the problem with us here but we are equally prone to displaying false love. Jesus love is sacrificial love, it comes with a sword. To truly love Jesus immediately puts us at odds with the devil and his world. For some to love Jesus today means that there will be no tomorrow for them. For us it might mean mockery or the loss of promotion etc. Our love for Him has consequences but Peter is encouraging us to consider the cost of our salvation. Listen to these words of C.H.Spurgeon:

"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 was 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’”

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. Imagine how God must feel by our lack of true love for Him!

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 nonsense, He did come and even His own would not receive Him. Jesus as a man is the very representation of God and yet man would not believe in Him in fact in their contempt they murdered Him. Jesus will only be believed if a work of grace takes place. Grace is a gift from God:
Ephesians 1:8-9
It is 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 and 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 who 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. We will then see Him face to face, He will be our guide on that day into the very presence of God who will only see righteousness in us because His Son is carrying the scars of sacrifice on our behalf.

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:
You are filled with joy beyond compare! Because:

The end is coming.
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 some of the theology of this song but the one thing that it can teach us is about Joy. Joy unspeakable filling every part: 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. It is not about “smile Jesus loves you” but it is all about “Jesus is King and I will extol Him” “Jesus the joy of loving hearts
Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,
From the best bliss that earth imparts,
We turn unfilled to Thee again.
Thy truth unchanged hath ever stood;
Thou savest those that on Thee call;
To them that seek Thee Thou art good,
To them that find Thee all in all.

We taste Thee, O Thou living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still;
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,

And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

Our restless spirits yearn for Thee,
Wherever our changeful lot is cast;
Glad when Thy gracious smile we see,
Blessed when our faith can hold Thee fast.
O Jesus, ever with us stay,
Make all our moments calm and bright;
Chase the dark night of sin away,
Shed over the world Thy holy light.

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!

Death on our behalf was a joy to Jesus.

What is our joy?

Belonging to Him eternally ought to be our great joy and pleasure, does that not at least warm your heart?

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 Saviour, 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!

Callington needs to know that we are truly a people who are full of the joy of the Lord. That is the reputation of the church that we want to be in evidence.

What do our neighbours think of when the Mustard seed is mentioned? Joy unspeakable or ??????????