OUR CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED
CHURCH BUILDINGS ARE CLOSED

Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 14 February 2021

by John McCartney 14 February 2021

Call to worship Psalm 100 (NIV)

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
    Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.


We join in Worship - Crown Him with many crowns. 

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We turn to the Lord in prayer.

Our Father we come to you this morning, ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. Join us and make us one, united in you today by your Holy Spirit as one people. We plead no righteousness of our own, but only the precious righteousness of Jesus. We praise You for all Jesus did, is doing and will do in our lives and the forgiveness of our sins through Him alone. Help us to grow in grace and truth to be changed from glory into glory, till in Heaven we take our place. Bless us today in all we do, in our prayers, our singing in our homes and as we read your Word today, and may that Word of yours, truth unchanged, unchanging refresh us today. May we know we have walked and talked with you today and give us strength and Holy Spirit unction to be your servants and do your will. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus. Amen. 

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.

We worship as we sing “Here is love vast as the ocean.” 

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We turn again to God’s Word. 
2 Chronicles 6 :12-21
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said:

“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

16 “Now, Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.

18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.

Luke 5: 27-32
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

 

Prayer
Dear Lord thank you for your Word and especially for that part we have shared today, we pray you will bless the reading and hearing of your Word today that we might know its truth for all the world and proclaim it. We bring our sin blighted world before you that it might be changed through the Gospel truth that alone brings hope. By the Gospel we pray for reconciliation, the easing of strife and tension and peace. We pray a special blessing on our world at this time in the devastation of Covid. Heal those who are ill, be with those who mourn and give strength to those who feel particularly lonely and isolated at this time. We give thanks for all NHS workers and other key workers who strive so hard to help others, even when exhausted. Give them strength and peace we pray. We pray that by your Holy Spirit people may see human helplessness in this situation and turn to you alone who can renew and give hope. We bring to you all our needs and prayers, no matter how great or small they may seem to us to be as we know that Jesus is at your right hand in glory ever to pray and intercede for us. We pray for all in need of prayer at this time, those who are sick, those who are downcast, those who mourn, those housebound and we pray especially for those who do not yet know you. As we bring those in need of prayer before you, as we pray for them may they know your peace and strength with grace sufficient for all their needs. We ask our prayers in the precious name of Jesus.   Amen.   

Hymn-Before the throne of God above

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Sermon-The Call of Levi 
Listen here and see notes below.

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In our New Testament reading we hear about the call of Levi to be a disciple of Jesus and how he celebrated by holding a banquet for Jesus. Meals with Jesus show how close. Jesus is. He comes to us. There is the intimacy of the Last Supper and of the meal in Luke 24 where those disciples on the Emmaus road realised they were meeting with the Risen Lord. In the Communion service bread and wine remain bread and wine and yet supernaturally Jesus is with us as the Holy Spirit removes the gap between Heaven and us and also gives us a foretaste of the Heavenly banquet prepared for all who have new life in Jesus. Yet in the Old Testament the people were not near to God. Moses had to go alone to receive the Ten Commandments, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holiest of Holies once a year for the remission of the people’s sin. In our Old Testament reading we learn about the dedication of the Temple as in verse 18 Solomon asks the question “Will God really dwell on earth with humans”. Paul answers in Galatians 4:4 “4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”. God is now incarnate in Jesus, He is Emmanuel God with us, He is “born to give us second birth,” “our God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man”. 

 

Chapter 5 of Luke’s gospel is the call of the first disciples, starting with fishermen but now Levi a tax collector. Later his name will change to Matthew. When God changes a person often his name changes too. Abram becomes Abraham, Jacob becomes Israel, Simon becomes Peter and Saul of Tarsus becomes Paul. Jesus called His disciples from all walks of life as He calls today. Matthew Henry puts it “It was a wonder of His grace that he would call a publican, from the receipt of custom, to be His disciple and follower…it was wonderful condescension that He should admit poor fishermen to that honour, men of the lowest rank; but much more wonderful that He should admit publicans, men of the worst reputation, men of ill fame”. Tax collectors are not popular people today but in the time of this gospel account they were very unpopular. Tax collection was farmed out to the highest bidder and the winning bidder had to pay an amount to the authorities and was allowed to charge a profit. In reality often this was excessive and tax collectors were hated. If they knew how hated they were they just charged more taxes in retaliation, so they were despised people. They were regarded as collaborators, extortioners and dishonest. The very name Levi suggests he may have been a renegade Levite, one who was meant to serve the Lord in the temple but was doing the very opposite of what God intended for his life. Many today do the opposite of what God intended. The shorter Westminster Catechism says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy His company forever”.  Many have a familiarity with things of God but never commit to them. Jesus comes today to all who are doing so to redeem them. 

Levi responded immediately to the call of Jesus.  Matthew Henry puts it “There is no heart too proud for the Spirit and grace of Christ to work upon, nor any difficulties in the way of a sinner’s conversion insuperable to his power”. As Ephesians 2 tells us the Gospel is for those far off and those near. As the Holy Spirit works the world is often far more open to the Gospel than we think – “Long my imprisoned Spirit lay…Thine eye diffused a quickening ray”. J C Ryle call this the power of Christ’s calling grace. There is no limit to the type of person whom God calls, Levi would have seemed so far way, yet he immediately answered the call. He gave up all to follow Jesus. In the marriage ceremony the bride and groom are asked to forsake all others and so it is with Christ as we become His bride. Levi gave up great wealth and it would have been impossible to go back to his previous work, the fishermen could have gone back to fishing, but Levi could not go back and had literally burnt his boats. 

Immediately he became an evangelist and invited all his former associates round to meet Jesus and Jesus agreed to meet with them. This was party to celebrate as though it was a wedding feast as Levi celebrated joining the bride of Christ. This is a sinner snatched from hell, life from death and adoption into God’s family. Having found mercy Levi wanted all his associates to find it too. Do we invite others to meet with Jesus? As Josh McDowell puts it “don’t keep the faith, share it!” 

At this point however the Pharisees intervened. They obviously were not invited but no doubt heard the noise. They complained that Jesus was meeting with tax collectors and sinners who violated their laws on purity. Although it was the disciples they spoke to, Jesus answered that only the sick needed a physician. Spurgeon comments “What a noble answer this was to the insinuations of Christ’s enemies”.  We need to go to those who do not know the Lord Jesus, where they are and enable them to know Him. John Wesley said, “Don’t go to those who need you but go to those who need you most”, to which the great evangelist Samuel Collier added “especially to those who don’t want you to come”! The hymn puts it “No need of Him the righteous have, He came the lost to seek and save”. Luke calls Jesus by the title of physician here. Dr Campbell Morgan described Jesus as “The Great Physician”, for He is the healer of the soul. We need in the church today to bring sinners to Him, Jesus didn’t just try and close the gap but lifts the sinner up, touching, healing, restoring, as Paul says in 2 Cor 5” If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation”. Repentance is not easy for the respectable and self-righteous, but Jesus calls them. We read in this passage here both a cure and a change. Luke as a doctor was used to healing physically as he sees Jesus as the physician who healed physically but here has the most important healing, that of the soul.

We need to go to the spiritually sick and ask them questions, go to the ones who don’t think they don’t need a physician. When people go to a doctor especially a surgeon a number of thoughts cross their minds as to whether they can put their trust in the physician. Ask questions about the Great Physician. Firstly, who is this great physician-He is the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, what are His Qualifications-He is God Incarnate, God’s only son who died for us – “guilty vile and helpless we, spotless Son of God was He, full atonement can it be? Hallelujah what a Saviour”. Thirdly what is His record? People may want to know the success rate of a doctor. Countless souls in heaven and on earth have been healed by Him and He has a zero-failure rate, none have been failed who trust in Him. Fourthly, what is the medicine and treatment? He sent His Word and heals by His own precious blood. Unlike earthly doctors He endured all the pain himself for our sakes. Finally, what fee does he charge? All is without price; it is all by grace. Jonathan Edwards said that we contribute nothing to our salvation apart from the sin that made it necessary.

 

  1. Come, sinners, to the gospel feast;
    let every soul be Jesus' guest.
    Ye need not one be left behind,
    for God hath bid all humankind.

    2. Sent by my Lord, on you I call;
    the invitation is to all.
    Come, all the world! Come, sinner, thou!
    All things in Christ are ready now.
     

Amen 


 

Hymn- Amazing grace 

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Look forward to seeing you all in person once more, John McCartney.  


Closing Prayer-Jude 24-25

24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.