Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
14 March 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
Happy and Blessed Mother’s Day to all Mums!
“Let’s communicate with one another; do acts of kindness; share Bible verses and open our homes to each other (after lock-down when we are allowed to). Above all give our hearts first to the Lord and then to each other, loving and encouraging one another. Then we will see healings and growth in the church. Let us all put into practice what it says in Psalm 133 – live in unity.”
“On ‘Bonfire Night’ night we see the beautiful and colourful display of fireworks flashing high up in the sky. It is very attractive. The touches of the Lord on our lives are amazing, permeating joy in all our being. What a delight! Taste and see how good the Lord is! – Psalm 34:8”
“No matter how many years we have been born-again and read the Bible, we still find something new to learn as the Holy Spirit enlightens the passage we read. He blesses us, satisfies us, and transforms us into His (Jesus) likeness. He instructs and teaches us in paths of righteousness – Psalm 119:105”
Reading: 1 Corinthians 13
“Love never fails”.1 Cor. 13:8
Things don’t seem to last like they used to. My Uncle had a shaving kit he used in the second world war that he still used until the day he died (1998). I remember buying a house phone from Curry’s back in 2001 and within a year it went Kaput! I took it back to their store in the City Centre to get it replaced and the unfriendly manager said in an unfriendly manner, words to the effect, “No chance”! It’s as if there is an expectation that things are not built to last, in this instance, more than a year. Compare my Gran’s house phones, one she had for about 40 + years and the other till she died at the age of 95. I actually went to Curry’s other store in the City Centre and went to the most-friendly looking assistant and … “No problem sir, I will get you a replacement one”.
And what about the watch I bought that broke down after one day. I took it back and the chap at the shop looked at me in disbelief: “What do you expect for a pound?” Times were hard! “Certainly not a watch that breaks down after one day!” Imagine, a pound watch every day = £365 per annum. In 10 years I could have bought a second-hand Rolex Oyster Perpetual 31! He eventually replaced it.
What about marriages – how wonderful to meet folk who have been married 50 + years and are still very much in love. That’s love – it always perseveres (1 Cor 13:7) and never fails (1 Cor 13:8)! We read: “Jesus loved them to the very end” (John 13:1).
(1) Love is a process
“Love is not love, that alters where it alteration finds’; in this sense, by definition, love never fails. If my relationship with my fellow-man is soured by his rebuffs, then it is not love; genuine love will always persist.”
C. K. Barrett
The moment we are born-again we don’t suddenly turn into perfect Christians with 1 Corinthians 13 love perfected. It will take a whole life-time to go on improving that love in our hearts. Peter thought he had this love for Christ only to fail badly in denying Jesus at the most vital time. However, we must conclude from this, that failing is part of the learning process of having a love that never fails. Jesus obviously sees us as we are now, but He is also looking ahead to how we will be, to His image that He will transform us into. This is very clear from another account concerning Peter. He had been a bit obstructive to Jesus, and was then humbled by the miraculous catch of fish, and fell at Jesus’ feet and said:
“Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”Luke 5:8
Undoubtedly, like for all of us, this was true, we are sinful people. But note Jesus’ reply:
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”Luke 5:10
Jesus was looking ahead to how Simon would be in the future after the ongoing sanctifying work of the Spirit in his life, and yes, Peter eventually came to that place where his love for Jesus never failed and he himself was also crucified like his Lord.
(2) Love gives a second chance
Interestingly, in John’s Gospel the words light (x 50) and life (x 32) are prominent in the first 12 chapters. However, in chapters 13-17, the Farewell Discourse, at the end of Jesus’ time here on earth, light only appears 6 times and life not at all. The emphasis now is on ‘agape’ love (x 6 in ch. 1-12 and x 31 in ch. 13-17). We have already noted that this section begins with a reminder that
Jesus loved them to the end.John 13:1
and yet shortly afterwards the disciples’ love for Jesus was going to collapse. They failed when the going got tough, the nearer He got to the cross. And yet, as we know, they were given a second chance (and a 3rd, 4th ,5th 6th … 7 x 70). And this is what Jesus concentrated on when He rose from the dead, He wanted to know if they were learning more and more about this love that never fails:
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you’. Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs’. Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you, and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.John 21:15-19
(3) Love never fails
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, we have here a wonderful example of a love that never fails, a mother’s love for her children. “Love never fails” may be translated “Love never falls”, “Love never collapses”, “Love never suffers ruin” cf. Song of Song 8:7: “Many waters cannot quench love”. Such is obviously the love of God:
“This love never folds under pressure of the most intense and sustained kind. This love continues through death into eternity. This is the love of God.”
We can think of the two houses Jesus referred to in His parable, the one on sand:
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.Matt. 7:27
The one built on the rock:
Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.Matt. 7:24-25
And that rock is Jesus, and that love that never fails, never falls, never collapses, never decays, never becomes invalid, never ends both now and throughout eternity, that love is Jesus’ love, and we have that love, e.g.
God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Rom. 5:5
This means that anything can happen, a glorious anything as for example witnessed by Sarah Edwards, the wife of Jonathan Edwards of the Great Awakening, 1730 onwards:
“At times, for hours together, without any interruption … she was overwhelmed, and as it were swallowed up, in the light and joy of the love of God e.g. “Thursday night, Jan. 28th, 1742 was the sweetest night I ever had in my life. I never before, for so long a time together, enjoyed so much of the light … and sweetness of heaven in my soul … All night I continued in a constant, clear, and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ’s excellent and transcendent love, of His nearness to me, and of my dearness to Him; with an inexpressibly sweet calmness of soul and an entire rest in Him. I seemed … to perceive a glow of divine love come down from the heart of Christ in heaven, into my heart, in a constant stream, like a stream … of sweet light. At the same time, my heart and soul all flowed out in love to Christ and had it strongly impressed on me, how impossible it was for anything in heaven or earth, in this world or the future, ever to separate me from the love of God which was in Christ Jesus. I cannot find language to express, how certain this appeared – the everlasting mountains and hills were but shadows to it. My safety, and happiness, and eternal enjoyment of God’s immutable love, seemed as durable and unchangeable as God himself.
Melted and overcome by the sweetness of this assurance, I fell into a great flow of tears, and could not forbear weeping aloud. It appeared certain to me that God was my Father, and Christ my Lord and Saviour, that He was mine and I His … a delightful sense of the immediate presence and love of God so near, and so real …I seemed scarcely conscious of anything else. God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ … manifesting their inconceivable loveliness, and mildness, and gentleness, and their great immutable love to me. I seemed to be taken under the care … of my God and Saviour, in an inexpressibly endearing manner; …The peace and happiness, which I felt, was altogether inexpressible. It seemed to be that which came from heaven; to be eternal and unchangeable … I felt compassion and love for all mankind ..”
“Love is the power of this world which already as such is the power of the world to come.”
“Love is the pre-eternal thing which man can possess here and now in its true essence.”
“It means that love never ceases to exist, even in heaven.”
Questions for Discussion:
- Share about something that you bought, or made, or had given to you, that only lasted a few days?
- Testify about a love that never failed that you witnessed in relatives, friends etc., you personally?
- Share a lesson you learnt through failing in love and then falling in love?
- Why does ‘love’ fail?
- How many chances do we give someone who fails us?
- Why do you think Peter was hurt the third time Jesus asked him “Simon … do you love me?”
- Share an example of the difference between human love and Christ’s love, in your life or another’s?
- What did you think of Sarah Edwards’ testimony?
Quote for the Week
“Believers show God’s love by concrete acts of service which meet real human need, just as Jesus showed God’s love by laying down His life for them.”
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Verse of the week
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness”.Jeremiah 31:3
Heavenly Father, we thank You that you are like a mother to us and as a mother comforts her child so You comfort us, and we are comforted (cf. Isaiah 66:13).
Lord, we pray that this day will be a special one to every mother; to everyone who has brought up children; to those who have cared for others as if they were their own; to those who have spiritually trained and nurtured your children around the four corners of the world. Bless them and abundantly reward them for all the love and care they have shown, a love that never fails.
Father, we again pray for all those who are suffering from Covid and other illnesses, Lord stretch out Your healing hand to them, in Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.