Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
28 June 2020
Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.
The Government has announced that Churches can meet up again for worship from 4th July subject to social distancing. I’m planning to phone everyone over the next few days to find out what your thoughts are about us meeting up. We will be discussing this tomorrow (29 June) at the Elders and Deacons Meeting so I will give everyone feedback on this.
“Many people have turned to gardening during lockdown; A friend sent me this:
“Planting your Spring Garden” – For the garden of your daily living:
Plant Three Rows of Peas:
- Peace of mind
- Peace of heart
- Peace of soul
Plant Four rows of Squash:
- Squash gossip
- Squash indifference
- Squash grumbling
- Squash selfishness
Plant Four Rows of Lettuce:
- Lettuce be faithful
- Lettuce be kind
- Lettuce be patient
- Lettuce really love one another
No Garden is Complete Without Turnips:
- Turnip for meetings
- Turnip for service
- Turnip for one another
And … to Conclude Our Garden We Must Have Thyme:
- Thyme for each other
- Thyme for family
- Thyme for friends
Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There is so much fruit in your garden because you reap what you sow (Author Unknown).
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”John 14:18
In John 13:33 Jesus has addressed His disciples as children: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: where I am going, you cannot come.” He is leaving His children but He won’t leave them as orphans for long. Some versions translate this as “I will not leave you comfortless” (AV) others as “I will not leave you desolate” (RSV) and here the NIV “I will not leave you as orphans.” The word has these different shades of meaning and Jesus is reassuring His disciples that He will not leave them as orphans feeling desolate and in need of comfort for He will come to them.
Scholars have put forward their different views as to which coming Jesus is referring to. His second coming; His coming to them by the Spirit; or His coming to them following His resurrection from the dead.
In other parts of John He has been speaking to them about leaving them and returning, as in His second coming, e.g. John 14:3: “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.” Then He has clearly taught them about sending the Holy Spirit in place of Himself e.g. John 16:7: “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” But here in 14:18, He is speaking about His return in a more immediate sense, that will meet their immediate need: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). This coming to meet their immediate need is that of His resurrection appearances, cf.
“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy … now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”John 16:20, 22
The disciples needed to realise that His going away from them was not an end to Him or His work but a continuation, His resurrection awaits. The cross and the resurrection go hand in hand:
“The appearance of Jesus in the Upper Room following the cross is one of the most important events in Christian history. Jesus’ return from an empty grave is the bedrock of early Christian testimony”
The importance of the resurrection can be seen in its inclusion in each of the four gospels (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-9; John 20 and John 21); in the writings of the apostle Paul (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15) and it was at the heart of almost every sermon recorded in the Book of Acts (e.g. Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33-34, 37; 17:31; 26:8). And if Stephen had been allowed to preach on, he would definitely have mentioned it and he did in fact allude to it: “Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:56). How comforted they were, no longer desolate, no longer feeling orphaned, mightily empowered by the Holy Spirit they preached with boldness that Jesus Christ was risen.
That is the type of transformation Jesus Christ wants to make in all of our lives.
Look at all the people who approached Jesus, they all had a need of some kind or other and He met each one of them and they all went away satisfied (except those who refused to follow what He’d said e.g. the rich young ruler who went away sad as a result but look at Jesus’ way with him: “Jesus looked at him and loved him” (Mark 10:21)). And again in the midst of all this teaching about Jesus leaving the disciples and returning we find His emphasis on love:
“Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end”John 13:1
and He then teaches them to wash one another’s feet. Then, a little later on, He speaks again about leaving them: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: where I am going, you cannot come.” and He again emphasises the need for them to love one another: ”A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:33-34; see also e.g. John 14:15,19-21,23-24,28,31). Love desires to meet the needs of those loved.
Some needs and how they were met
(1) The need to be comforted – We have already begun to look at this as Jesus promised His disciples He wouldn’t leave them comfortless. How many people in our communities are not experiencing this but are living with pain in their inner beings? Many years ago I was attending the funeral of a young man who had died of cancer leaving his wife and young baby boy. Afterwards, and understandably, his widow was weeping, and was being “comforted” by well-meaning comforters, exhorting her not to cry because she had the Lord with her, and they were quoting her verse after verse from the Bible in a way that made one feel uncomfortable. What they didn’t seem to be doing was mourning with her. Yes they were sad at the loss of this young brother in the Lord, but they weren’t feeling her pain: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn / weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Cf. Job’s comforters, I think they got it right at the beginning:
When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathise with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognise him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.Job 2:11-13
They sat where he was at and felt his pain but later on this changed and they kept trying to fix it and put him right.
“Job’s world is real, not a hypothetical “ivory tower” where these questions can be bandied about among the participants without anyone feeling the hurt”
(C. Hassell Bullock).
(2) We need to be accepted by each other – We all need each other – I was challenged once when I heard a preacher say, after we had just sung, “You’re all I want, You’re all I’ve ever needed” that this wasn’t true because, as we saw last week, as well as needing Jesus, we also need each other; God has made us that way. E.g. What were Zacchaeus’ needs – certainly not money, property, or job security? Rather acceptance, not only by Jesus but also by his community who had rejected him because of his sinful ways. He needed to be accepted for who he was, unconditional love, that covers a multitude of sins and weaknesses. Zacchaeus was not only reconciled to God but also to his community.
“God has designed us not only to need Him but also to need each other”
And as we have seen the greatest need of all is to be loved.
(3) We all have Physical Needs –
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”James 2 :15-16
I read this in a book by Ed Silvoso (brother-in-law of Luis Palau), regarding a church he was pastor of in Resistencia, Argentina. The Church found out that in some of the slum areas of their community they had no running water. Their loving response was to build 16 large water tanks and they also donated large amounts of medicine and equipment to the public hospital. They were given permission to put on the tanks words from John 4:13-14: “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” Such had a great impact. Amen.
Verse of the week
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged”Deuteronomy 31:8
Heavenly Father, we praise You that You are the God of all comfort, and thank You for the comfort we have all received from You.
Thank You that You have accepted us in and through Your Son Jesus Christ.
We worship You that in You our needs are met, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical.
We pray, loving Father, that You would comfort the families of the three victims of the recent terror attack in Reading: James Furlong; Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails. Lord, comfort all families who have lost loved ones through appalling acts of brutality. Father, when humanly speaking, it seems that people might not get through the pain they are suffering, show them the way, reveal Your Son to them, for He is the Way.
Lord, we live in a very troubled world, the Daily News is one long account of trouble, suffering, wars, rumours of wars, and so on, yet Lord, You said these things would happen, especially in the last days. Therefore, heavenly Father, prepare Your people, the Church, to respond in the right way, without fear or worry, being faithful in the work You have given us to do; watching and praying, being ready! Help us to love one another, to love our neighbours, to love our enemies, and to do Your work of meeting their needs whatever they may be. Lord, that Your Church will shine ever more brightly in the darkness.
Father, guide Your people as to the right time to meet together for worship; that we might be diligent to observe the correct ways of social distancing, cleanliness, and being wise in all our ways. Protect us from this Corona Virus and Father, that we might finally see an end to it. Help the scientists, as they seek to develop a vaccination. May the nations of the world be wise and diligent as each one comes out of lockdown.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, You are the Sovereign Lord who rules over the nations of the world, reveal Yourself in all Your Glory, in and through Your Son Jesus Christ and may there be a mighty outpouring of Your Holy Sprit upon the nations of the world in the coming days, in and through Jesus Christ, Amen.