Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 1 November 2020

by John McCartney 1 November 2020

Call to worship Psalm 46 (NIV)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ at Newmount I am very sorry that circumstances mean we cannot be together in person today but God unites us by His Spirit as we join in this act of worship individually. We turn to the promise of God’s Word in this Psalm.

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

We turn to the Lord in prayer

Dear Lord, we come to you as your people today, separated again physically but one in you. We pray for your blessing on all we do and say and pray that by your Holy Spirit you would bless every part of our worship today. May we come to you confidently in your peace bring you all our prayers and may all that we do be to your honour, glory and praise. Bless the prayers we bring to you, bless our singing and bless us as we hear your Word. We come to you pleading no righteousness of our own but the precious righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sakes on the Cross, was raised to life gloriously and is now at your right hand in Glory. Lord we praise you for the forgiveness of our sins through the Lord Jesus and we pray that we may be changed from glory into glory to be the people you call us to be. As we worship you bless us, we pray beyond our wildest expectations, refresh by your grace, power and strength. Dear Lord during the current world crisis may we especially know your peace and proclaim that peace to our world. May we depart today strengthened by your presence in our lives and by your Spirit’s power strengthen us to for the week that is ahead. We ask our prayers 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.


We worship as we sing ‘In Christ alone’

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Reading Philippians 4:4-13 (NIV)
We turn again to God’s Word from the letter to the Philippians

We turn to Him in prayer once more.
Our Father, thank you for your Word. By your Holy Spirit bless that part of your Word that we share today. Illuminate our understanding of it by the power of your Holy Spirit that we may know its truth. Dear Lord, especially in these difficult times we praise you that you alone are our hope and you are the only hope in our world. We pray for our troubled world especially in the Covid-19 situation. We pray for your peace in our lives and in the world. May our world in these times see the futility of hope in human wisdom and turn to you alone. Please give us grace and strength to proclaim your Gospel truth to an anxious and fallen society. We pray for people everywhere and especially those affected by illness. We pray for those suffering from the virus that they may be healed and for your peace for the anxious families affected. We pray for those who mourn the passing of loved ones that they may know your peace and strength. We pray for those feeling alone and isolated at this time. We bring our prayers too for all those who are ill for whom treatment has been delayed by the virus situation. Lord we know that in all things you work for the good for those who love you and are called for your purpose. Give us grace and strength that we might know and feel that you are at work among us. Thank you that we can maintain fellowship together in this way and we pray you will keep and protect us all until we are able to meet again. Bless all church leaders as they seek your will for when to re-open buildings and may we all re-open with a renewed vison and strength of what you will do amongst us. Revive your church Lord we pray for the precious sake of our Lord Jesus Christ-Amen.

Sermon: Living in God’s Peace - you may like to use the following notes as you listen to the sermon

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Whilst living in lockdown we missed two key Christian festivals in church, Easter, and Pentecost. The messages of both come together to give the church power during these strange times and enable us to live in God’s peace. Amid difficult human situations God promises us that peace. In Philippians Paul is in prison, everything is wrong in earthly terms, but he is joyful. We must keep reminding ourselves this letter is a prison letter as it is so full of joy and peace. This chapter of Philippians is another exposition of the fruits of the Spirit for the Christian life is that fruit-“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5) . Look at the Acts of the Apostles and the joy and peace the apostles had despite most difficult circumstances. Paul reminds us of this in Romans 14:17 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Paul is in prison, but reality is that the guards are, Paul is free in Jesus, physically he is imprisoned but spiritually “his chains have fallen off and his heart is free.” In lockdown people may feel imprisoned but the real imprisonment is that of the soul. This passage is truly relevant at this time, the New Testament epistles addressed Christians living in exceedingly difficult times and they bring great comfort.

In Philippians 3 Paul wants to know Jesus and the power of His resurrection, all else is rubbish. We need to know and feel the power of the resurrection and of the Holy Spirit today. Public problems need private solutions. The Public success of the church depends on the sanctification of every member. Paul tells us here however that we can’t just rush in, we need preparation for knowing God’s peace and need to do a number of things.

V4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Note how Paul deliberately repeats this command and that it is in the Lord. The Chinese Christian Watchman Nee tells how the turning point in his Christian life was when he realised that it was the joy of the Lord that was his strength not his. Paul here is not talking about being a stoic and having a stiff upper lip, he does not just tell us to cheer up! John Calvin tells us that the joy of the world is deceptive, frail, and failing. We will never have joy of salvation if we trust in ourselves and our good works-Toplady wrote “Not the labours of my hands can fulfil thy law’s demand”. This truth enables us who by nature cannot stand to be able to. There are circumstances in which people are not going to be deliriously happy, but Jesus enables us to rise through circumstances. We must not let circumstances rob us of our joy, Romans 8:38 “ For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. People may ask does Jesus understand what they are going through. Yes, He does. He knows what it is like to lose a loved one, he wept when Lazarus died. He knows what it’s like to be driven by satan to the point of suicide when he was in the wilderness. He knows what it’s like to be let down by those close to Him. He knows the agony of feeling separated from God. As Hebrews 4 tells us we have a great high priest who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. As the hymn puts it “Jesus knows our every weakness”. We especially need to rejoice in the Lord when circumstances are not conducive to rejoicing. Remember Paul was in prison, the key is in the Lord. The believer is so united to Christ to be in Him and vice versa, safe, and strong through this relationship. Therefore we rejoice in this position and relate to our possession of strength .This does not ignore what’s happening , we are fully aware of it, fully prepared to deal with it , but fully convinced of God’s power to give wisdom ,grace and courage. Our Joy comes from remembering what He has done and our relationship to Him-as John Newton puts it “His love in times past forbids me to think he’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink”.

V5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near

Paul calls for our consideration of others, learning to be calm with difficult people, especially outside church, and sometimes inside the church! This puts v4 into practice and is more difficult as in v4, we look to the Lord, in v5 we are exhorted to be like Him. This gentleness does not mean compromise but speaking the truth in love. Pauls tells us to live in the knowledge the Lord is at hand. This has 2 meanings that Jesus is near to us now and will return.

V6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God

For practical living no two verses provide such comfort as v6-7. The condition of the heart affects the mind. Spurgeon put it that prayer is the antidote to care. Care has a real place in Christian experience, Paul shows this for Epaphroditus in chapter 2, there can be a Godly anxiety and concern but it’s about how we approach it. Here Paul piles up all aspects of prayer in sequence here-we do not rush into it. In everything (every situation) we need to bring to the Lord, even when we think it is unnecessary, even when we think things are going well, even when we think things too difficult, or we are not in the mood. We need then to do so with Thanksgiving with an overwhelming sense of worship and reverence. Spurgeon-said it is prayer perfumed with praise. Remember what God has done and is doing. Having done all this we can then present our requests.

V7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

The result is peace, the first fruit of Calvary. During the First World War John Hutton was planned as guest preacher at the famous Westminster Chapel in London. Living in Glasgow at the time he was preparing to journey to London but received a telegram informing him that his son had been killed in action. He concluded preaching was impossible and began to write a telegram begging to be excused. Yet he did not send the telegram and found himself on the long journey to London. He testified that as he entered the pulpit of Westminster Chapel and said the words “let us pray “, he felt a deep sense of God’s peace that gave him all the strength he needed. It passed all human understanding; it was a mark of the supernatural. The peace of God will be with you guarding us like a garrison. We need to guard our hearts and minds, for the source is the heart, the mind is the outflow, and we need the God of peace. Jesus is with us. He said “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). However the God of peace is also the God of power (Hebrews 13:20). God gives a threefold peace, peace with God, Romans 5, peace with one another (Ephesians 2:14) and finally this peace of God. This is all in Christ, there is no peace apart from Him. We cannot attain the peace of God unless we have peace with God. The peace of God works by presenting the Lord Jesus Christ to us and reminding us about him. If he has done the greater thing how can he possibly fail us? We have peace with the internal, peace with the external circumstances, and peace with reference to God’s command,

V.8-9 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Paul then calls us to put this into practice. It means showing what is noble, submitting to the authority of God’s Word. The God of peace with us if we are in unity and peace.

V.10-13 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Paul concludes with a biographical testimony. He traces his gift back to God’s influence and the response is joy in the Lord. V13 is a staggering statement- Spurgeon says the former would be impudent daring without latter part. Everything ends with Christ. Paul’s relationship with Christ enabled him to do all things, Christ constantly infuses strength into him (See ch 1:6 and ch 2:12-13 . The great Scottish Preacher Henry Scougal talked of the life of God in the soul of man and this was Wesley’s favourite definition of what a Christian is. Victory is based on association with Christ as he infuses so much power into us. We so often forget this in the modern church. When Charles Wesley became a Christian, it was through a man called John Bray, who was described as a poor mechanic who knew nothing but Christ, but because he knew nothing but Christ, he knew all things. May that be our message today. Amen

Song- My hope is built on nothing less

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

Closing Prayer Hebrews 13:20-21

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.