Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
15 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.
Living in a squat, addicted to heroin and caught in a seemingly unbreakable cycle of crime, Paul Traynor was trapped and destitute. But one day, something happened that many would find unbelievable.
Paul calls 1 February 2011 “the best day of the rest of my life”. Homeless, living in London, miles away from his family who had disowned him; Rehab had failed, his heroin and cocaine addiction had taken over his life, and he had “hit rock bottom – I was so weighed down with the shame, I had failed at life. I had failed my wife and kids, failed my siblings, and I couldn’t live any more.”
He fell to his knees with tears streaming down his face. “I cried out at the top of my voice: ‘God if you are real, please help me because I need you’ and that was the turning point.
What happened next is hard to describe – it was the most beautiful moment.” Paul says he felt someone else in the room with him. He believes it was God, giving him a sign. “Even though I never grew up going to church, and I knew very little about God, I knew it was Him in that room with me and I have never felt so great. I had tried years of medication and rehab, but when I woke up the next day, I wasn’t in withdrawal and I have not touched drugs again. Things just started changing in my life and I have never been the same since.”
Within a year, with the help of his wife Minnie, his work evolved into Streets 4 Christ, a charity the couple started, to help the city’s homeless, providing hot food, clothing, and support to find housing and employment, to needy people like he once was – Amen!
(Thanks to Diane for identifying this testimony)
Pictures, Dreams, Visions
“The grapes were being crushed and fermented to produce wine. We are being stripped of all our bad habits as we allow the Lord to fill us with His qualities to become His new creation, reflecting His glory and likeness”
Reading: Ephesians 4:32-5:10
Therefore, become imitators of God as dearly loved [beloved] children and live a life of love.Ephesians 5:1-2
Let’s continue with the theme we looked at last week: We are God’s beloved and as a result we should love God, love one another, and even love our enemies. Here in Ephesians we have a similar phrase, God’s “beloved children” followed by the positive exhortation to “walk in love” or as the NIV puts it “live a life of love”.
Earlier, Paul had prayed a remarkable prayer for these Ephesians in Ephesians 3:17-21, that all Christians may have the power to grasp how wide, long, high, and deep, is the love of Christ, and to intimately know this love, that surpasses knowledge, that the church may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God. Whew! Amazing! No wonder we sing of God’s amazing love. And just in case we think that this is impossible, it will never happen, the prayer will never be answered, the apostle continues:
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.Eph. 3:20-21
We must never limit God; He is able, well able! In times of Revival, the reality of such is more apparent. As this was a circular letter, sent around, to other churches, and as Christianity is a passing it on faith, the first disciples teaching others what Jesus taught them (cf. Matt. 28:20), those [new] disciples teaching others, and so on. So, this is not just for the believers in Ephesus, it’s for all Christians, and it’s for you and me.
(1) Therefore, become imitators of God
We have been taught to ask, “What’s the “therefore” there for? And the answer is, that it links us back to the first three chapters and the great doctrinal teaching that the apostle has given there. To put it in a nutshell, we have been given everything we need “in Christ”, to live like Christ. Therefore, we are exhorted to live like Christ. Or as he puts it here, “become imitators of God”. Obviously this will take time, even a whole lifetime, but it is something the church, the individual believer, must continuously develop into, to become imitators of God. In the immediate context this involves the negative aspects, e.g., “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 4:30); “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths” (Eph. 4:29); and the positive, e.g., “live a life of love” (Eph. 5:2); “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
(2) As dearly loved [beloved] children
God so loved us, even while we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10). In love, He adopted us into His family, through His beloved Son. This was not done grudgingly but in accordance with His pleasure and will:
In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.Eph. 1:5
The NKJV puts this last phrase like this: “of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved”. Such brings to mind the words from the Song of Song: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3) which we can take as a symbol of God’s love for His church. Such children, secure in the knowledge of their Father’s deep and everlasting love for them, should desire to take on their loving heavenly Father’s resemblance by imitating Him and His Altogether Lovely Son, by living a life of love.
(3) Live a life of love
Space only permits us to look at one aspect of imitating God which lies in the immediate context of these verses:
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Eph. 4:32
God’s kindness is often linked with His love e.g. In Ephesians 2:4 we saw that when we were in a complete mess, spiritually speaking (Eph. 2:1-3), “because of His great love for us, God … made us alive in Christ”. Later on this is referred to also as an expression of His kindness to us (Eph. 2:7).
But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.Titus 3:4-5
Kindness takes into consideration and meets the needs and interests of others. Kindness according to Gal. 5:22 is a fruit of the Spirit and so does not come naturally to us, rather there is a need to depend on the Holy Spirit. Kindness is very powerful (see Acts 28:1-10). A young Christian lady moved next door to a busy business-like couple and through her acts of kindness to this couple, especially baby sitting their small children, the woman accepted her invitation to a Family Service at church, and she became a Christian.
Questions for Discussion
- Is there any limit to the kindness we can show to others?
- What is it about kindness that disarms people and turns around unfavourable situations?
- Share a testimony about how someone’s kindness to you impacted your life?
- Is it possible to love our enemies and be kind to them?
- How does it help you to know that you are dearly loved by God?
Quote of the week
Spread love everywhere … First of all in your own house. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.
Verse of the week
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Colossians 3:12
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the loving kindness You have shown us through Your Son Jesus. We are deeply touched as we think of Him giving His life in our place. Lord help us to be kind to one another, to our neighbours, our work colleagues, our friends and family.
Lord You loved us when we were still Your enemies. Although this is difficult for us it is not impossible for we have You within us to enable us. Lord empower us by Your Spirit, to love and be kind even to our enemies, and to all people. Help us to see what their needs and interests are and meet them in and through Jesus Christ, Amen.