Reflection – 15 August 2021

Here’s Martin’s reflection for Sunday 15 August.

If you’d like to join in our online worship follow this Zoom link. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85061262911?pwd=SjFoODcvOVdFZUhTengxRVRkNzJPUT09

Our worship session starts at 11.00 British Summer Time.

We are delighted that the church building is open for worship too. The Zoom service will also be run from the church building.

Mark

London Road Congregational Church Reflection 15.8

Can’t See the Weeds for the Seeds

Call to Worship:

Come, be nourished by the words and witness of Jesus Christ.
He came that we might know of God’s absolute, steadfast love for us.
Receive the gift of the Bread of Life and hunger no more.
We are grateful for Jesus Christ, who has given to us this magnificent gift.
Come, let us worship and rejoice!
Let us sing our praises to God. AMEN.

Let’s pray:

Open our ears, O God,
that we might hear your Word
speaking to us in this moment.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might listen for your voice
calling to us through scripture.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might understand your promises
to followers both old and young, ancient and modern.
Open our hearts, O God,
that we might enter into the love
you offer us. Amen.

Amen.

Let us say together the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Notices

Hymn: Evidence

What happens on the mountain
Can’t stay on the mountain
What happens here has to get there
And Gods delivery system is called, faith
Little bit of faith, little bit of faith
There are some things in our lives
And in our community and in our city
That by the power of the word of God
And by the power of our worship
Are about to move from here
To there
Do you believe it?
Do you believe it?
In fact, I feel like I wanna set an atmosphere
And we wanna see some things move tonight
In the presence of God
Come on, how many of you are ready to make a move?
We’re moving, we’re moving, we’re moving
We’re moving from death to life
We’re moving from darkness to light
We’re moving from defeat to victory tonight
Somebody’s crossing over from shame to grace tonight
Somebody’s moving from fear to faith tonight
Jump up on your feet
Somebody is moving from sorrow to joy tonight

Move now
Move now
Move now
From dread
To expectation
From bondage
To freedom
From mourning
To dancing
Now, now, now, now

Lift your hands He’s here
Lift your hands He’s here
We can’t stay here
We’ve gotta go
We’ve gotta go
We’ve got a charge to keep
We’ve got a God to serve
We’ve got a gospel to preach
We’ve got broken heart to bind
We’ve got hurting people to heal
Come on, move church, move
We’re not waiting on the move of God
We are a move of God

Come on and shout
Now, now, now

How many believe mountains still move?
How many believe God still reigns?
Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed by thy name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
Here and now…

A miracle can happen now (Do you believe it?)
For the Spirit of the Lord is here
The evidence is all around (Spirit)
That the Spirit of the Lord is here (Miracle)

A miracle can happen now
For the Spirit of the Lord is here, yes
The evidence is all around (Come on, He’s here)
That the Spirit of the Lord is here
(Here as in heaven, heaven come)

A miracle can happen now (Yeah)
For the Spirit of the Lord is here (Yeah)
The evidence is all around
That the Spirit of the Lord is here

Now
Move now
Move now
Move now
Move now

We are coming to the end of the first year of Mark’s and My leadership. The video you are about to watch is from a Church in America that I follow podcasts from.  Like all big Churches they have their critics, but they also have the favour of God, so I know which side I want to be on.  I have shared their music before.  They are a multi-age/race/socio background Church.  They are Biblically based and have an expectation that God wants to use them. Whilst you are watching this video, I want you to ask yourself what you think is stopping God filling this building, using us significantly in Newark. What is holding God back from a move that is scandalous in today’s culture. I believe in a God who does not have light and dark and if He can move mightily there, he wants to do the same here. Some of you will pull back from the full-on praise, but whether our expression is loud or silent, do we have the same desire, expectation as them? Do we have the same hunger to see God change lives and make a difference? In the next 12 months, if we have come a long way so far, I want us to have a heart that longs for God to move in a mightier way.

I want you as you are listening to picture someone who is important to you but not close to God sat in one of the seats here. I want you to see neighbours sat here. I want you to think of someone you have seen this weekend and see them sat here. The question is why not?

Intercession

Ministry of the Word:

1 Kings 3:3-14

Solomon loved the Lord and followed the instructions of his father David, but he also slaughtered animals and offered them as sacrifices on various altars.

On one occasion he went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices because that was where the most famous altar was. He had offered hundreds of burnt offerings there in the past. That night the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked him, “What would you like me to give you?”

Solomon answered, “You always showed great love for my father David, your servant, and he was good, loyal, and honest in his relation with you. And you have continued to show him your great and constant love by giving him a son who today rules in his place. Lord God, you have let me succeed my father as king, even though I am very young and don’t know how to rule. Here I am among the people you have chosen to be your own, a people who are so many that they cannot be counted. So give me the wisdom I need to rule your people with justice and to know the difference between good and evil. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to rule this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this, 11 and so he said to him, “Because you have asked for the wisdom to rule justly, instead of long life for yourself or riches or the death of your enemies, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you more wisdom and understanding than anyone has ever had before or will ever have again. 13 I will also give you what you have not asked for: all your life you will have wealth and honor, more than that of any other king. 14 And if you obey me and keep my laws and commands, as your father David did, I will give you a long life.”

Luke 8:4-15

The Parable of the Sower

People kept coming to Jesus from one town after another; and when a great crowd gathered, Jesus told this parable:

“Once there was a man who went out to sow grain. As he scattered the seed in the field, some of it fell along the path, where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it up. Some of it fell on rocky ground, and when the plants sprouted, they dried up because the soil had no moisture. Some of the seed fell among thorn bushes, which grew up with the plants and choked them. And some seeds fell in good soil; the plants grew and bore grain, one hundred grains each.”

And Jesus concluded, “Listen, then, if you have ears!”

The Purpose of the Parables

His disciples asked Jesus what this parable meant, 10 and he answered, “The knowledge of the secrets of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to the rest it comes by means of parables, so that they may look but not see, and listen but not understand.

Jesus Explains the Parable of the Sower

11 “This is what the parable means: the seed is the word of God. 12 The seeds that fell along the path stand for those who hear; but the Devil comes and takes the message away from their hearts in order to keep them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds that fell on rocky ground stand for those who hear the message and receive it gladly. But it does not sink deep into them; they believe only for a while but when the time of testing comes, they fall away. 14 The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear; but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them, and their fruit never ripens. 15 The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit.

Ephesians 5:15-20

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. 16 Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. 17 Don’t be fools, then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do.

18 Do not get drunk with wine, which will only ruin you; instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. 20 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father.

Reflection:

I always wonder when I feel God is giving me something to share, whether He is speaking to me or me or me for us. If this is meant for me then welcome to the window on my spiritual journey. The thing is that I still feel that God has placed me here and what God is pointing out in me he wants me to share and take you with me in our joint journey. The deacons and I had a conversation which included how the deacons felt I should lead, and I suppose this is part of God’s answer to me.  There will be things he points out to me to be able to lead better but there are also things He gives to share as we walk together. I am part of this Church but you have called me to seek God for direction, you then choose to follow and hopefully seek God that I have heard right.

We have been looking at how the different Gospels have dealt with incidents in the life and teachings of Jesus. In the Parable of the Sower all three of the Synoptic Gospels include the story and whilst Matthew and Mark are very similar, Luke, who is the doctor is concerned with identifying why there are differences between the seeds and in particular our part in their cultivation. 

I would like us to consider the seeds being sown as the hopes we have of God moving in this place.  Some of the seeds that fall on the path are eaten by the birds in all three but only Luke adds that they are trodden under foot.  They are not given a chance to cultivate because our doings, our lives take our concern and stop them taking root. It may also be that we have tried things in the past which haven’t worked and because of that the seeds/hopes we have are trampled and not allowed to have a chance to cultivate. I have started writing something at the bottom of my page in my diary to make me think about what I am doing that week.  This week has been a quote from Leonard Ravenhill – “Are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for.” Am I investing my time in things that are worth doing? Are the hopes of God for my life not given a chance to cultivate because they are being trampled in the business of my life? Am I investing my time in things that God has directed me to do? I have started going back to things God has said in the past, asking myself whether I am attending to them or have I been distracted.

The second difference between the Gospels is the reason for the seeds on the thin soil not cultivating.  The reason being they had no moisture or nourishment.  I am being challenged to get us, including me, to look at how much time I am, or we are, investing in creating a heart that will cultivate the hopes God has for us. Am I investing in prayer, reading the Bible, do I or we need to be held accountable and take more serious the amount of time we invest in cultivating a nourishing heart for God? How much do I desire to deepen my faith? A verse stuck out to me this week which says the people of Israel knew the deeds of God, but Moses knew the ways of God.  Is it enough for me to know what God has done or do I need to learn more of who God is and his ways?  Do I need to do more to develop our understanding of who God is and not just what he has done? Possibly a failing on my part, but also Covid related, I need to spend time over the next year talking to you about your walk with God, to look at how I or we can help you grow and by grow, I mean develop in our walk with God. I am going to do the same, so I am better equipped to serve you. It’s funny how Luke is so concerned with identifying the reasons for the lack of growth.

The third difference is an addition to the seeds that fell with the thorns.  The other two mention the thorns growing, but look adds ‘with it’, I read in that the fact that in life there are both blessings and challenges.  That is the normal, both grow. The question we are faced with is what do we cultivate?  What do we allow to grow? What do we give time to? I used the passages we spoke about Solomon and from Ephesians because I wanted us to be reminded that we need wisdom and to learn to keep hold of the promises and deeds of God. David, Solomon’s father, when he fought Goliath – which happens to mean uncover/reveal – left his baggage with a servant and went out focused on what was in hand.  When he fought his giant, his monster – the thing that would reveal his heart – he was without baggage that might hold him back.  If we need to spend time seeking God about his promises for us, if we need reminding of his past faithfulness, then we can do that through developing time in His word and prayer and then face the monsters and giants without baggage because the weeds have been taken out allowing the seeds to grow.  That or the seeds are so well attended the weeds don’t get a chance to take hold.

What God is then able to do is to sow hopes and dreams into our heart and plans and purposes that can take, be cultivated, and yield a significant harvest.

Amen

Hymn: Rattle

Saturday was silent
Surely it was through
But since when has impossible
Ever stopped You
Friday’s disappointment
Is Sunday’s empty tomb
Since when has impossible
Ever stopped You

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Pentecostal fire stirring something new
You’re not gonna run out of miracles anytime soon
Yeah, resurrection power runs in my veins too
I believe there’s another miracle here in this room

This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling

Yeah
Whoa
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?
Do you hear it?

My God is able to save and deliver and heal
And restore anything that He wants to
Just ask the man who was thrown
On the bones of Elisha
If there’s anything that He can’t do
Just ask the stone that was rolled
At the tomb in the garden
What happens when God says to move

I feel Him moving it now
I feel Him doing it now
I feel Him doing it now
Do it now, do it now

This is the sound
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling, rattling, yeah

I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)
I hear the sound (I hear the sound)

And the bones began to rattle
Rattle, rattle
Rattle
God said live, God said live
Hear the Word
And this is what He said

Live, live
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Dry bones hear the Word of the Lord
Live (live), live (live)
Live, live, live, live, live

This is the sound of dry bones rattling, yeah
This is the praise make a dead man walk again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live
Open the grave, I’m coming out
I’m gonna live, gonna live again
This is the sound of dry bones rattling
Dry bones rattle
Dry bones rattle

Rattle, rattle, rattle
Live, live, live
Live, live
Live, live

This passage from Ezekiel is one of the ones that fires me, God reminds me of what he wants from me. I am taken by God in prayer when I feel inadequate to this verse and reminded that I am not enough, but it is He who works through me that is more than enough. When we as a fellowship wonder how we can affect God’s desire of a move of God he takes us to this place and asks can the dry bones of our community live. I want us to be a community that expects signs and wonders and God to heal. I need my faith to grow and this is why the parable of the seeds and the weeds aspects is important for me.

Blessing.

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