5 July: Recognise the need, and see the transformation!

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
5 July 2020

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

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Start the video, then click the Settings button, then “Subtitles”, then “English”. This will display English transcript as Harry speaks. The occasional word will be displayed incorrectly (it is a machine translation), but the majority of words will be correct: it can be a helpful supplement.

Welcome

Testimony

(Thanks Rick)

Rick was watching a programme about Giant Tortoises, the Saddleback Tortoise, designed to be able to reach the higher vegetation such as cactus pads, and the Domed Tortoise designed to shuffle along and eat grass. Both are designed to be able to self-right themselves. Rick praised God for His amazing Creation, Amen!

Worship

(Thanks Lisa)

(cf. Psalm 107:1-43) Graham Kendrick Copyright © 1993 Make Way Music 

Word

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour … to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61:1-4

It has been said that Isaiah is a great theological masterpiece containing in its 66 chapters “virtually the whole of biblical theology, from God’s transcendence through creation and redemption to the final destiny of the cosmos … The view of God in the book of Isaiah is more complete and profound than in any other single book in the Bible” (Oswalt). (I’m not going to make too much of the fact that there are 66 chapters in Isaiah and 66 books in the Bible!). In Isaiah we see the fearful purity and holiness of God revealed, equal to anywhere else in the OT, and yet also revealed is the abundant and loving grace of God, equal to anywhere in the New. Isaiah comes as a breath of fresh air in its position in the Old Testament. It’s primary importance is as “the revelation of God’s inauguration of a new age for His people – an age in which servanthood, not rulership, is the sign of their election” (J.D.W. Watts).

Isaiah (“Yahweh saves”) was transformed by a vision of the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne (6:1). The revelation of God’s glory and holiness leaves Isaiah undone, humbled, realising that he is a man of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips (6:1-5). Yet the Lord has this covered:

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, ‘See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for’

Isaiah 6:6-7

The sacrifice on this altar pointing forward to the perfect sacrifice of God Himself in Jesus Christ:

John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John 1:29

In Isaiah we have a comparison of two servants, the first one rebellious, fearful, sinful, always failing (Israel) but the second servant is obedient and humble, a servant who lives to minister:

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations”

Isaiah 42:1

The word for Justice here has a much deeper meaning than that of the English word, referring to “God’s divine order for life” (Oswalt). The Ministering Servant ministers, by becoming the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) bringing the means of reconciliation between God and the first servant, Israel, but also between God and all the nations of the world. The two matters that have to be dealt with to bring reconciliation between God and humankind are dealt with by the Suffering Servant, who

  1. decisively satisfies the wrath of God and
  2. pays the penalty for the sin of humankind:

in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us

2 Cor. 5:19

As a result, all the blessings that we read of in Isaiah 61:1-4, and more, are for those who trust in Christ. Look at the condition of humankind as described by the following words – 

poor …
broken-hearted …
captive …
in darkness …
in prison …
mourning …
grieving …
ashes …
despair …
ancient ruins …
places long devastated …
ruined cities …
devastated for generations.

See the transformation that Christ will bring:

good-news …
bind up the broken-hearted …
freedom …
release …
the Lord’s favour …
comfort …
provision for those who grieve …
a crown of beauty …
oil of joy …
garment of praise …
oaks of righteousness …
the display of His splendour …
rebuilding of ancient ruins …
renewing ruined cities.

This also comes out wonderfully well in the song that Lisa has chosen today:

Beauty for brokenness, Hope for despair; 
Bread for the children, Justice, joy, peace;
Your kingdom increase;
Shelter for fragile lives, Cures for their ills;
Work for the craftsman, Trade for their skills;
Land for the dispossessed, Rights for the weak;
Voices to plead the cause, Of those who can’t speak; 
Refuge from cruel wars, Havens from fear;
Cities for sanctuary, Freedoms to share;
Peace to the killing-fields, Scorched earth to green;
Christ for the bitterness, His cross for the pain.

Watch the News today and have these words at hand and believe that in Jesus Christ it is all possible and will one day happen. And the Lord wants to do these things today through His Church.

These verses in Isaiah 61:1-4 might be used as Jesus’ mission statement. He, Himself, quotes them in Luke 4:18-19 saying to those listening in the synagogue in Nazareth: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” and all the people loved Him for it and were amazed at His words until He told them that they weren’t open to God’s ways and then they wanted to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:22-30). How fickle people can be concerning the ways of God!

Jesus wants to transform mess into glory; sadness into joy; comfort for mourning; praise for despair. He wants to do these things and more through His Church here on earth. Let’s look at a few more needs we all have:

(1) The need for Encouragement

At an Alpha Training Conference in London in the 1990’s Nicky Gumbel was explaining some of the reasons for its success. One point he made was that “We all thrive in an atmosphere of encouragement.” The Senior  Minister, Sandy Millar, had given Nicky, a new Curate, his first assignment, to organise a Men’s Breakfast @ the Church one Saturday morning. Afterwards, Sandy was on his way to encourage Nicky but also to mention that he forgot to tell Nicky to make a charge for the breakfast. “Nicky that was wonderful, well done, and I had meant to tell you to make a charge for the breakfast, but I think you did the best thing by not charging them, we can show the love and generosity of God this way.” However, as Sandy was saying this he noticed a big pot of money on the table by the Exit. “Oh, I see you did charge them, well done Nicky, I think that is the best thing, good stewardship and all that.” Nicky then informed Sandy that actually he had said to everyone “We are not making a charge but if anyone wants to make a donation they will be gratefully received.” To which Sandy replied, “Nicky that is brilliant, the very best, a good balanced approach.” In other words whichever way Nicky had chosen he was going to get encouragement: “We all thrive in an atmosphere of encouragement.”

(2) The need for Appreciation

In his book, ‘Great Commandment Principle’, David Ferguson highlights the need we all have for “Appreciation” defined as recognising with gratitude; Communicating with words and gestures personal gratefulness for another person; Praising. We can sometimes go out of balance in thinking that only God should be praised, but the apostle Paul writes e.g. “I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2). I can remember going to see the Principal at the Bible College to complain about a brother who was on the Wood Team with me but had smashed the back lights on the Truck a number of times. I wanted him off the Team. The Principal spent the next 10 minutes singing this brother’s praise, telling me all the things he did, and how each day he drove an elderly member of staff to a hospital 40 minutes away in his own time, so she could see her sister who was very ill. Gulp! I wasn’t expecting that! – A good lesson in how we need to appreciate one another and first of all see the good points in one another and give expression to that; A good lesson that! I was so looking forward to working with Pete after that and we are still friends today, still writing to each other, after all these years, appreciating one another and encouraging one another.

(3) The need to be Special

I once knew someone who shared with me that they’d had 34 homes by the time they were 17 years of age, having been fostered endless times. The most special time of his life was when he was 5 years old living with his Mum. Very difficult circumstances saw him put into care and then the endless cycle of foster parents. He was obviously a very needy person with rejection being a massive issue for him to overcome. One day he expressed the deep need of his life, “I just want to be special to someone.” Jesus has come to heal all this brokenness and He wants to do it through especially His Church, and that means through you and me, Amen!

Verse of the Week

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we thank and praise You for your ongoing work of healing so much brokenness in our lives. Lord, in this broken world we live in, let Your kingdom increase! Help us to play our part in providing shelter for fragile lives, havens from fear, beauty for brokenness, hope for despair and cures for their ills. God of the poor, Friend of the weak, give us compassion we pray; Melt our cold hearts, Let tears fall like rain; Come, change our love, from a spark to a flame.

Lord, let Your justice burn brightly again, and let the nations of the world, learn of Your ways. As many are suffering financially in the aftermath of lockdown, we pray Lord help them, provide for them, and undertake for them, in ways that only You can. Provide work for the craftsman; trade for their skills; land for the dispossessed; rights for the weak; voices to plead the cause, of those who can’t speak. Lord, use Your Church in these days to lighten the darkness; Anoint us with that same anointing Jesus had to preach good-news to the poor in His great and glorious name,

Amen.