31 May: Let love drive away fear and judgment

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
31 May 2020

Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.

Welcome

Having tweaked a muscle in my upper right arm (Johnny tells me it is my Anterior Deltoid – never heard of that before!) I’m putting the date I do these hundred sponsored press-ups back for 2 weeks to June 14th. I have set up a “Just Giving” site, “Pastor’s Press-ups for Persecuted Christians”.

Testimony

Janet shared at the Cell Group last Wednesday about the time she had a puncture in her tyre and was left unable to move. She needed a tyre with the right pressure in it to be able to proceed, to go forward. She then made the analogy with the pressure we are all under due to the Corona-virus. She acknowledged that there was a lot of difficulties, sufferings and pain, but also challenged us to try and see some positives that are coming out of this time of pressure. E.g. The meetings we have been having on Zoom have been encouraging. Also, we have all probably been in touch with each other through phone calls, text messages, emails, etc. than previously. Many acts of kindness are taking place. Families getting to know each other better, (add your own!)

Thanks, Janet!

Worship

Thanks to Andrea for providing us with two choices here.

Copyright Nathan Stiff
Copyright Lou Fellingham, Chris Eaton & Abby Eaton

Word

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

We know that in Christ, we are no longer children of wrath but children of God:

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ.

Ephesians 2:3-5

cf. 1 Thes 1:10 and

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Romans 5:9-10

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

We are reconciled to God and at peace with Him. However, John is teaching us that we need to abide in Him, to love Him and love others to continue in this. E.g. When I was at the Bible College of Wales I was in charge of the Wood Team (with about 5 other students) as part of the practical work expected of every student. A new student joined the college and was asked to work on the Wood Team. This student was quite a fiery character and would explode with anger every so often. It was great how every one showed him a lot of agape love. However, one Saturday morning I got a bit stressed out with his tantrums and when, yet again, he exploded with anger I let him have it, both guns blazing as they say. For the rest of the day it was as if I had lost the Presence of God in my life and even wondered had I lost my salvation which was a bit of a scary thought. After a very busy day, I eventually had some time alone in prayer in the evening and asked the Lord why this was so. Immediately, the Lord brought to mind how I had been with this young Christian and the words: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1-2). It was as if the Lord had measured back to me what I had given out to this brother. I repented, said sorry to the Lord, and went to find the student. I sincerely apologised to him which he immediately accepted saying that I had hurt him. Interestingly, from that day onwards, we became very good friends in the Lord (No, I’m not trying to suggest this as a way of making good friends!)                    

We have in previous weeks seen the source of love; “God is love … love comes from God” (1 John 4:7-8); the inspiration and practice of love: “since God loves us we ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11) and now we are looking at the confidence such a relationship of love from / to God and others brings. It can be compared to the consummation of a marriage, for such brings a completeness:

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus.

1 John 4:17

This confidence is a result of continuing in Him, of abiding in Him:

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

1 John 2:28

Put simply, continuing in Him or abiding in Him is living as Jesus did:

Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

1 John 2:6

A major part of living as Jesus did, is loving God and loving others as Jesus did, even our enemies.

Love for our heavenly Father and fear of His judgment cannot coexist:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.

Romans 8:15

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Mandy and myself recently watched a film based on a true story: “The stoning of Soraya M” based on the book: “La Femme Lapidee” by Freidoune Sahebjam regarding events that took place in a village called Kupayeh (means ‘at the foot of the mountains’), Esfahan, Iran. Without going into the details, it was a shocking film involving a baying mob, and an innocent woman who got brutally stoned. Why? Because there was no Jesus and His love to tell these evil men, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Seen in the light of this film, love makes a massive difference! I believe that as these evil men (including the woman’s husband, the Imman, the Mayor, and the woman’s father) who are guilty of this woman’s brutal murder, near the time of their own death, and facing the judgment of God, will, if they don’t already, have a lot of fear in their lives.

Not so for the Christian who is abiding in Christ and walking close with Him:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

We have to apply what we learn about living as Jesus did to the events around us and those we experience ourselves e.g. What is the right decision regarding Dominic Cummings. There are various viewpoints. I received a testimony in an email from Premier Radio:

Please take time to read that message here.

We, as followers of Jesus, have to continually make sure we do not become part of a braying crowd seeking to “stone” someone, reacting to circumstances in unloving ways, but to make sure that in this world we are like Jesus: “We can share Christ’s confidence before God, here and hereafter. Real love … results in spiritual boldness, ‘flings fear out of doors’” (S. Smalley – 1 John 4:18, WBC), Amen!

Word for Today

“The Lord appeared to us in the past,saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness. I will build you up again, and you will be rebuilt, O virgin Israel. Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful”

Jeremiah 31:3-4

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, again we thank You for the remarkable love You have shown us in and through Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for the gift of Your Spirit. Continue to make Your home with us. Guide us into all truth especially in these difficult situations that confront us.

We especially pray that You will be with the Government in these very difficult times. Help them to say sorry and repent when this is called for, and that the people of this nation will be ready to forgive.

Help us all to examine our own hearts first. Lord that we might have Your fearless love in our hearts that will confront the evils and injustices of this world and say to the braying mobs, “let him who is without sin cast the first stone”.

Perfect and bring to completion Your love in Your Church, that we might the more walk this earth as Jesus did, for Your Glory in and through Christ Jesus, Amen!