Sharing Our Faith Together

Morning Worship for Sunday 13 December 2020

by Andy Cokayne 13 December 2020

A call to worship from Psalm 126 v 1-6

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​Lighting the Advent Candles

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Our first hymn is : ‘Hark the glad sound’

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We turn to Our Lord in prayer

Almighty God Our Heavenly Father as we come before you this morning separated and yet united, we pray that we may sense your presence with us, and through the Holy Spirit be encouraged to worship and praise you. We pray that you would lift our hearts and minds beyond our present and temporary difficulties, to focus on you the ever present and ever living God, who is not limited by time or space. We come with expectancy, but also with humility, we know we do not deserve the opportunity to meet with you, but we ask that you will make yourself real to each of us this morning. We come asking for your forgiveness. We know that our best efforts only seem like dirty rags, we know that we do not deserve your forgiveness, but nevertheless, we say sorry for all the times we have let you down, through what we have said and not said, done and not done, and ask that out of mercy you forgive all our wrongs. We claim that promise in your word that we know is true “That if we confess our sins you are faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” On that promise we rely. Thank you Father that through Jesus, and him alone, each of us can know our sins forgiven and our relationship with you put right. We ask these prayers in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us.

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.

Our second hymn is : ‘On Jordan’s bank the Baptist cry’

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Once more we turn to Our Lord in prayer

Heavenly Father, we continue to pray for our government and those involved with the pandemic, particularly those involved with the roll out of the vaccine, that they would act with wisdom and care. We pray for the same wisdom and care be granted with the Black Lives Matter campaign. We pray that you would bring comfort and peace to those suffering through the pandemic, whether that suffering come through, illness, loneliness, or financial hardship. We pray that you will increase our faith in you, that as we approach Christmas, you would make us bold, and we dare to pray that you will give us the opportunities to share the good news of peace through Jesus, with this anxious and troubled world. We pray that you will not allow to despair, but that you would grant us a renewed vision of what you will do amongst us. Revive your church we pray. May we leave our time of worship today strengthened by your presence in our lives and by your Spirit’s power, to go forth with confidence into the week ahead. We ask all these prayers in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

On this third Sunday in Advent we consider the role of John the Baptist, the passages of scripture set for today is : Matthew 3 v 1-16 John the Baptist prepares the way

Message: Are we ready to speak?

John the Baptist is one of the most distinctive characters in the New Testament.

I can remember looking through children’s bibles, and seeing John portrayed as a wild windswept character, and quickly turning over the pages to the stories of Jesus.

John had an unusual flair for fashion, wearing wild-looking clothing made of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He lived in the desert wilderness, ate locusts and wild honey and preached a strange message. Unlike so many people, John the Baptist knew his mission in life. He clearly understood that he had been set apart by God for a purpose. Through God’s direction, John the Baptist challenged the people to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by turning away from sin and being baptized as a symbol of repentance.

As Christians we are, in many respects, to follow in John’s footsteps, not in his dress sense or his diet, but in the fact that he pointed others to Jesus, and we are to do the same.

But why did they listen?

Firstly he was authentic.
Secondly he was prepared.
Thirdly he had something worth saying.

First John was authentic, he was real.
If we want people to listen to us as Christians, we must be real. No we have not got our faith nicely tied up where we know all the answers, and never put a step out of line, but neither do we use our faith as an excuse to do just as we like.

As Paul advised the Christians in Philippi “Work out your faith with fear and trembling.” Phils 2 v 12.

As John sat in prison he began to have doubts about whether Jesus really was the Messiah. If John’s purpose was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah, and if Jesus really was that Messiah, then why was John in prison when he could have been preaching to the crowds, preparing their hearts? Jesus answered John’s doubts by pointing to his acts of healing the blind, lame, and deaf, curing the lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the good news to the poor. With so much evidence, Jesus’ identity was obvious. Jesus wanted to ensure that John’s disciples would have no doubt as to who Jesus was, and so could pass that same certainty back to John.

If you sometimes doubt your salvation, the forgiveness of your sins, or God’s work in your life, look at the evidence in scripture and the changes in your life.

We should not be afraid of challenges whether from others or ourselves, we should be prepared for them. When we doubt, we are not to turn away from Christ, but towards him. To have doubts is not the important thing, it’s what we do with them that counts. Just like John, we are to ask the questions of Jesus, and be prepared to listen, and then consider the answers. And so through them allow our faith to be strengthened.

Secondly John was prepared.
His name was divinely given. We read in Luke’s gospel, that his Father had been instructed by an angel that his son was to be called “John” (Lk. 1:13), which derives from a Hebrew term meaning “Jehovah is gracious.”

The importance of John in the divine scheme of things probably is summed up best in the testimony of Jesus himself. “Among them that are born of women there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist” (Mt. 11:11).

John was born to aged Jewish parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, who were of a priestly family (Lk. 1:5). John’s mother, Elizabeth, was related to Mary, the mother of Jesus (Lk. 1:36). This devout couple lived in the “hill country” of Judea (Lk. 1:39). Luke says of them “Both of them were upright in the site of God, observing all the Lords commandments and regulations blamelessly.” Luke 1v6.

Luke then goes on to say of John “And he grew and became strong in spirit; and lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1v80.

But Andy what’s that got to do with me, I was never prepared like that.

We may not think that God has been preparing us, but how many times have you heard someone say, or possibly yourself, that others had been praying for them before they became a Christian?

As you look back, how many times can you see that strange coincidences have occurred in your journey of faith?

Be sure that God has been, is now, and will continue to be at work, preparing and stretching you. But do we make the effort ourselves to be prepared to speak to others about Jesus.

Thirdly John had something worth saying.
Although he held no power or influence in the Jewish political system, he delivered his message with the force of authority. People could not resist the overpowering truth of his words, as they flocked by the hundreds to hear him and be baptized. And even as he attracted the attention of the crowds, he never lost sight of his mission—to point people to Christ.

Have we got something worth saying this Christmas that may point someone to Jesus? Christmas is a wonderful time, to talk about Jesus. After all He is the Reason for the Season.

We read the news and wonder. What will happen with a new President in America? What affect will Brexit have? What will happen with the Virus? Will my health be okay? Will my finances be okay?

For many in this world, these are uncertain times, many need the good news of the gospel that gives hope. Jesus came that first Christmas to bring hope to the world.

Are we prepared to share the good news and, like John the Baptist, point others to Jesus? We must remember that for others to listen.

We must be authentic.

We must be prepared.

We must have something worth saying.

May we pray for, and get, the chance to share the good news this Christmas.

Hymn : Our final hymn is : ‘These are the Days of Elijah’

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We are united with churches throughout the country as we share together in the ‘The UK Blessing’.

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