Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
8 August 2021
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
At the Elders and Deacons’ meeting we agreed that we should proceed with the new Covid “freedoms” with care and caution with everything being done in love towards all our brothers and sisters, especially to those who are more vulnerable to Covid:
- Face masks should still be worn during the Service
- Gradually introduce Congregational Singing
- Social distancing to be maintained
- We plan to take Communion Sunday 15th August
- No tea and coffee in the lounge for the time being
The rescheduled church weekend away has been confirmed for 3rd – 5th June 2022. If you would like to go please contact Andrea for an info. letter and sign-up form.
I come from a single-parent family. My parents got divorced when I was five years old. During my childhood, love felt scarce, as my mother had to work three jobs to support four young kids. During my teenage years I felt so empty and loveless that I begun experimenting with many things … I led a very sinful life … I was also self-destructive. I tried very hard to find love anywhere I could, but … always felt even more empty and unloved. I had my heart broken countless times.
Back then, I didn’t believe in a loving God at all. I was angry all the time, I hated the world, I hated my life and worst of all, I hated who I had become … I was stuck in an emotionally-abusive, manipulative … relationship and one night, I decided I couldn’t take it any more … I was brought down to my knees … With all the strength I could muster, I asked: “God, if you are really there … be here for me. I can’t take it any more. I am going to do something really drastic if you don’t meet me here, I need you.” Suddenly I felt a supernatural kind of feeling that overcame me. I truly experienced God in the most remarkable way … an overwhelming sense of peace … feeling like you were being hugged by … someone that wasn’t physical. It felt supernatural to me.
Immediately I rose from my knees, took a Bible out and was led to this passage,
1 Peter 4:12-13: “Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad for these trials make you partners with Christ in His suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed …”
I didn’t know what the verse meant. But I knew one thing; my suffering in life had a purpose, even if I didn’t know what that purpose was yet. I slept peacefully, something that I hadn’t been able to do for a very long time. One year later, I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Saviour.
Now I have been a Christian for nearly three years … I found a personal love in Christ and Christ in me and, even in the bad times I’ve had since, I never ever felt empty or loveless again. I am overwhelmed by the love God has bestowed upon me … God’s love for me is supreme … nothing can ever separate me from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s love (Romans chapter 8 verse 38).
Clarissa Goh, Singapore
Reading: Romans 1:1-7.
To all … who are loved by GodRom. 1:7
God created us and knows exactly what we need to function properly; to be loved and to love, is top of His list. The gospel in a nutshell:
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.John 3:16
Loving one another is the next step after believing in Jesus,
And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.1 John 3:23
Our text, Rom. 1:7, literally means, “To all .. who are God’s beloved”. The same word is used by the Father of His Son after Jesus had just got baptised:
And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.Matt. 3:17
And also on the Mount of Transfiguration:
While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him.”Matt. 17:5
(1) We are God’s Beloved
Some believers feel uncomfortable with this as if they are claiming too much for themselves, even that it is almost arrogant to talk like this. However, we need to take the focus off ourselves and look to our loving gracious heavenly Father who is the One who is doing the talking and the loving. Listen to Him, and not to our [doubting] selves, or the devil himself, who doesn’t want Christians to realise how much they are truly loved by God.
When Paul has spelled out the spiritual condition of humankind:
… dead in your transgressions and sins … following the ways of this world, and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air [Satan, the prince of this world – John 12:31; 16:11] … gratifying the cravings of your sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts … objects of wrath.Ephesians 2:1-3
– it certainly isn’t a pretty sight, such is the ugliness of sin. But look what we read next:
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.Ephesians 2:4-5
How remarkable, when we were in the ugliest condition possible, God loved us, and gave His only Beloved Son to die for us. If He so-o-o-o-o-o loved us then, how much more now! So let’s believe it and doubt it no more and enjoy our relationship with our loving heavenly Father.
(2) We must be loved before we can love
We love because He first loved us.1 John 4:19
It is so easy to make Christianity into a rule book – “here are the rules now get on with it”. It’s not like that, it’s relationship first, and a love relationship at that. The fact is we are loved – the same word is used in referring to the believers in Ephesians:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.Ephesians 5:1-2
This word was especially used to refer to an only child to whom the parents had devoted all their love and as a result that child was secure and contented having received so much love.
And our Father in heaven is saying the same to all His children including you and me. So, this has to be our starting point with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We have to be secure and contented in His love, because we are totally, fully and completely loved by Him. It’s only when this relationship is right can we launch out and love others, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and the people of the world, as we should as followers of Jesus, God’s Beloved Son.
(3) We have His love in our hearts
Note our text “To all …”, to all believers, not just to e.g. the leaders he addresses in chapter 16, but to all Christians … God’s beloved. Later on, he writes, [to all Christians],
Hope does not put us to shame, because, God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.Rom. 5:5
We can be confident that the judgment will not put us to shame because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts. Note it’s “God’s love” not “our love for God” that is the all important factor! Note the certainty he writes with [cf. Rom. 8:28: “We know …”] and so we, too, should be sure and certain about these spiritual truths. So, let this love flow out in blessing the world, the world that is now on our doorstep, Amen!
Questions for Discussion
- Do you think a lack of love in the home eventually leads to problems in life?
- There is a lot about love in the Scriptures! Why?
- A Christian struggles to believe God loves them! What to do?
- When did you first experience that God so loved you? Share about the experience!
- Do you think we must first experience love before we can love?
Quote of the week
“You aren’t loved because you’re valuable. You’re valuable because God loves you”
Verse of the week
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.John 15:9
Heavenly Father, we thank you for these sure and certain facts: You so love this world, You so love Your church, You so love us. Father, You didn’t just shout it from heaven but You gave Your only beloved Son, even to die on the cross, to demonstrate Your amazing love to us. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ Name, and in the power of Your Spirit, help us to love one another, help us love our neighbours, and even help us to love our enemies, in very practical ways with the love of Christ Jesus, Amen.