Reflection – 30 August 2020


Here’s Thomas Dodds’ reflection for Sunday 30 August

The online worship session will start at 11.00. Thomas will be leading worship this week .

If you want to join in just email me – newarkcongregational@virginmedia.com – for details. We’d love to see you.

Mark Taylor

Sunday 30 August 2020 – A Reflection

It is my privilege once again to lead these reflections for Sunday Worship at London Road.

Today I’m going to preach in 3 instalments. A good preacher always has 3 points as you know, and it would be helpful if you didn’t look at these reflections prior to that time.

First let me bring our thoughts together in a prayer called a collect which collects all our thoughts for the service together. Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray and to give more than either we desire or deserve: pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Let me read a few verses from Psalm 95 together as we begin.

Psalm 95

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
    and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
    and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
    let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
    and we are the people of his pasture,
    the flock under his care.

A chance to sing now. My Jesus, My Saviour

My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord there is none like you
All of my days, I want to praise
The wonders of your mighty love
My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of your hands
Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have
In you

Our first reading for today – Matthew 16:13-20

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Sermon Part 1-

Jesus asks his disciples 2 questions as they enter the region of Caesarea Philippi, it was a very remote area and it is probable that there was less flocking after him than in other places, which gave him leisure for this private conversation with his friends.

Questions that are asked of us can be Rhetorical, some may require us to go away and think about the answer we are about to give.

This question that came in 2 parts from Jesus demanded an instant response.

Who do the people say that I am? Some say Elijah, some say John the Baptist, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. What about the People outside of London Road Congregational Church in Newark, who do they say Jesus is?

Is he just another swear word to add to another one? Is he just a really good bloke who did some really good things. Maybe they couldn’t care less about Jesus, try talking to me about it and I’ll give you a punch on the nose mate. Don’t try ramming religion down my throat.

That was a good response, James 2:19 tells us, you believe there is one God, good, even the demons believe that and shudder.

But Jesus isn’t a mystic or a guru. Jesus wanted to get to the heart of the matter. He wanted to know what his disciples thought of who he was. He wanted to know who they thought their leader really was. Peter was the spokesman, in fact you could say that big, bold, bolshy Peter who said what the disciples were thinking, Thomas would be 2nd in command on that point. Peter who walked towards Jesus on the water then sank, Peter who was told to get behind me Satan, Peter who would later deny Jesus 3 times yet know the restoring power of Jesus declared fearlessly and without any hesitation. You are the Christ, the son of the living God.

Make no mistake about it, Jesus is Lord. He is Lord of life, he is Lord of history, he is Lord of today, and he will be Lord of tomorrow. He was Lord when time itself began, and he will be Lord when time itself draws to a close when the Lord Jesus returns to this earth. He is Lord of our destiny, he is Lord of our marriages, he is Lord of our singleness, he is Lord of our children, he is Lord of our finances, he is Lord over his church, he is Lord over temptation, sin, problems. Be in no 2 minds about this, he is Lord. And in all things he has the preminance. Let me remind you of how his Lordship works.

In Marks account of the Gospel story a few moments prior to this account. The disciples were caught in a storm with Jesus, and Jesus was having 40 winks, don’t you care we could’ve died and drowned, but only one word and the storm was stilled. Jesus is Lord of the storm. But even before that, in Mark 4:35 Jesus said lets go to the other side of the lake.

Despite the storm that was going on externally, Jesus promised that they were going to the other side of the lake. I don’t know what you’re going through, I don’t know what storms are rocking your boat, you may feel externally that you’re wasting away, but let me tell you with the treasure Jesus Christ living inside of your boat, you can ride out the storm, because as Lord he has promised that you will go to the other side.

Prayers –

1st Prayer

We pray for the life of London Road Congregational Church, we pray you would give our members and leaders a fresh vision of where you want to take us as a church in the future. We pray you would raise up men and women who can support our life and continue the good work that has begun here. We pray you would be with our church leaders, Mark and Martin, that they would work together well and seek your will and not their own.

We pray for those who aren’t well at our church, we remember those who are housebound and can’t join our services for whatever reason. That you would bless each home represented here at London Road, and that we would grow in Christ as a church family together.

2nd Prayer

We pray for the world in which you’ve placed us. We ask that you would stay the hand of the coronavirus, and that there would be a decrease in infection rates and the daily death count would come to zero, and because of this all glory would go to our God. We also pray for those places in our world struck by war, famine, disaster, that aid would come quickly, and that people would have access to those things that we take for granted here in the west.

3rd prayer

We pray for our country, and ask that as we move through the Covid-19 pandemic, that you would grant Boris Johnson and his government wisdom in knowing the right plans to implement at the right time, and that as a result of this the country would unite behind it’s leader. That too as Brexit talks progress, the right deal would be struck for the good of our nation and not the conservative party.

In bringing our prayers to God’s throne of grace we join in saying the Lord’s prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come;
thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
Amen.

A chance to sing again now – Cornerstone https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ6WwkOPrbg

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name

Christ alone cornerstone, Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm He is Lord, Lord of all

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne

Sermon part 2 –

What did Jesus mean when he referred to building his church upon the rock? The first point was a comparison of the name Peter to the word rock. The New Testament was written in Greek. The name Peter in Greek is petros, meaning a pebble or small stone. The word for rock in the Greek is petra, meaning a massive rock or bedrock. Jesus was making the linguistic point that this simple truth that God had revealed to Peter, the pebble, about Jesus being the Christ, the rock. The second linguistic point was that the rock was the foundation or bedrock upon which He would build His church. This was a reference to salvation through Jesus the Christ.

It is clear from these passages that the church was built upon Jesus Christ, not Peter.

Many professing Christians believe that Peter was designated by Jesus to be the foundation or head of the church. They base their belief on an out of context interpretation of Matthew 16:17-19. Instead, Jesus referred to Peter being a small pebble that understood the real foundation of the church, Jesus Christ. Reading this passage in proper context along with supporting verses shows us that Jesus is the Christ, the Rock of our salvation. Peter was a small cog in the wheel working towards a great vision.

And Jesus passed onto Peter and his disicples the kingdom. The kingdom which according Luke 17:20 does not come with observation, people can not say that it is here or there, but the kingdom of God is in you. It’s not out there waiting to come down, well technically we are waiting for the kingdom of heaven to come at the consummation of the end of the age, but really if we are building his church then we need to realize that the kingdom of God is in us, it’s in our very bellies, it’s in our very fibre and being of our bones, and we are called to be apart of that kingdom that God with us his small pebbles are building, we are building upon good solid foundation.

Even the gates of hell (or the power of death) cannot prevent the advance of the kingdom, nor claim victory over those who belong to God. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 says – 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We now have the authority that flows from Jesus, and this binding is to do with that authority. The keys which Jesus was going to pass on to Peter also denote authority. through Peter a representative of the church throughout the ages, Jesus is passing on to his church, his authority or control, to bind and to loose on earth. The Greek that Jesus is the one who has activated provisions through His Cross, the church is then charged with implementation of what he has released through his life, death and resurrection

2nd Reading – Ephesians 2:19-22

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Sermon part 3

So, if He is Lord and the foreman of his church and if he is building, then we too join in with the building of his church and his kingdom. We are adding to roll, we are adding to the bricks, those whom he is saving and who we throw out the lifeline too.

We remember that we no longer foreigners, strangers, aliens, once we were gentiles, so far outside the camp of Christ, but now we are brought near into Christ, our standing is in Christ, we are now seated with Christ in God. So therefore, we can say we are not who we once were, but what are we? We are fellow citizens with God’s people, member of his household. Joining with other Christians of other denominations.

I long for the day when Christians no longer hold themselves to their denominations to which they belong, I long for the day when we will all join together as God’s people, hand in hand, and march together in unison for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, in heaven there won’t be a denomination, we will all be together worshipping the lord before the throne day and night. No Baptists, no Methodists, no Lutherans or Catholics, just one happy band of men and women, boys and girls who’ve put their faith and trust in Jesus. That’s the day which creation has been groaning for since the dawn of time, and we can usher in that day as we build his kingdom.

We are building his church upon the foundation of the apostles (apostle, representative, messenger, envoy; often used in a technical sense for the divinely appointed founders of the church) and the prophets prophet, one who speaks inspired utterances; the writings of the OT prophets; specifically a spokesman or interpreter for a deity; a prophet, seer, a prophet in the Christian church, a person gifted for the exposition of divine truth)

That is the foundation upon which we build, the foundations that have been laid in the past, and we take on that baton of building upon those foundations.

Jesus is the chief corner stone, he is the cap stone, it’s not just those who believed in him, but we build upon the one who can be trusted, the one in whose hands we entrust our lives, the cornerstone is the first stone to be laid in the construction of a masonry foundation, all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.

Jesus must be at the centre of us building the church. We must keep Jesus at the centre, of all our discussions, of all our decisions, of all our gospel work for his name. Without Jesus we can do nothing, we are nothing.

If we do this, then we all join together in becoming one holy Temple unto the Lord, to whom one day all nations will flow together and praise the wonderful name of our God. We are being built together to become a dwelling place where the Holy Spirit lives. To join together and fit together.

We aren’t just building a church of people, but a place where the Holy Spirit, can impact the lives of men, women, boys and girls, so that they can share in this mission of building the church, and join together un unity, not in disunity and disharmony, but joining together, as one body, to proclaim, one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is in all and through all.

Let’s sing our closing song – What a fellowship, what a joy divine

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Benediction-

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

And the love of God

And the fellowship of the holy spirit

Be with us all evermore

Amen

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