Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 27 June 2021

by Jim Shaw and Andy Cokayne 27 June 2021

Welcome to all who join our worship today.

A call to worship - Psalm 130 v 1 to 8
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Our first hymn is : 'O for a thousand tongues to sing’

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Lord, we praise you. You are great and glorious. You have shown your love, your mercy towards us in Jesus. Lord we worship, we adore you. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Heavenly Father, we come before you in Jesus’ name, confessing that in our actions and reactions we have failed you, in our loving and forgiving we have fallen short of your mark, in our believing and trusting we have denied your grace and power.

We lay before you the specific things which are clouding our relationship with you... 

We believe if we confess our sins you will forgive us and cleanse us.

Thank you for that; so may we live as those who know we are forgiven because of what Jesus has done for our lives. Amen

Our second hymn is : 'Tell me the old, old story’

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Lesson – Mark 5 v 21-43


Sermon - “God rewards those who earnestly seek him”
In my sermon I want to take you back to our Gospel reading from Mark ch 5, but I want to focus exclusively on the middle section of our reading, vv 24 to 34.  First, the background.  This double miracle of healing is also in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, but Mark gives us the most detail.  Jesus is back on the Galilean side of the Sea of Galilee, and a large crowd has gathered round him.  A synagogue leader called Jairus falls at Jesus’ feet and pleads with him to come and heal his daughter who is dying.  Jesus goes with him, and as well as his disciples a large crowd go with them.  The crowd are pressing in on Jesus so much that they are almost crushing him - this detail is from Luke’s account.

Mark’s account now shifts.  There’s a woman who has been suffering from bleeding for twelve years - it sounds like a menstrual disorder.  Let me read from Mark 5 what happens next. 

“When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.  OR we could translate, I will be saved.  Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.  At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, Who touched my clothes?  You see the people crowding against you, his disciples answered, and yet you can ask, Who touched me?  But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it.  Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth.  He said to her, Daughter, your faith has healed you.  OR we could translate, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

I want you to focus on this woman.  This is not simply an account of how she got healed.  Her story tells us how we can find the salvation that is in Jesus.  Remember Jesus’ words to her: “Your faith has saved you”.  So, let’s take it step by step:

Her condition was desperate.  The Law of Moses dealt with menstrual bleeding.  See Lev 15.25-33.  Her condition made her “unclean” under the Law.  Which meant that she could not go to the temple, or any religious gathering; and anyone who touched her became unclean as well.  So everyone would avoid being near her.  If she was married, we can only guess at her shame and suffering.  That’s what sin does to all mankind.  Sin cuts us off from God.  It ruins our lives, and the lives of those around us.

She had come to the end of herself.  All her money had gone - all of it on doctors.  But it had only made her condition worse.  There was no possible deliverance.  And that’s how we are without Christ’s salvation.  There is no escape from our warped, sinful nature.  We are unable to keep God’s law, no matter how hard we try.  And therefore we are under his judgment. 

She hears about Jesus, that he heals people from every sort of disease.  Faith starts to enter her thoughts: “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed; OR, I will be saved”.  Faith in Jesus is the only way we can be saved from sin and God’s judgment.  She starts to get hope.  She has GOT to get to Jesus.

She joins the crowd around him; he’s on his way somewhere, but that doesn’t stop her.  She presses through the crowd after him; never mind she is making others unclean;  she HAS to get to him!  Nothing is going to stop her.  She gets to within touching distance of him; she puts her faith into action: “if I just touch his clothes, I will be healed”; she touches him.  If we are to obtain Jesus’ salvation, if he is to deliver us from our sinful, desperate condition, we have to seek him with all our heart.  We mustn’t allow anything to stop us.  We have GOT to get to him.

She knows Jesus has healed her; she can tell.  So can we.  The NT is very clear: the Holy Spirit will give us that assurance, on the inside, that we are saved.  I’ll come back to this.

She has to confess publicly what she has done, and why, and how she has been healed.  So must we.  Listen to Rom 10.9: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.   When we first come to Christ and trust him for his salvation, we must tell others.  The Lord expects us to.

She receives the Lord’s word of assurance: “Daughter, your faith has healed you, OR saved you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering”.  Once we have come to Jesus and put our faith in him, his promises become real in our hearts. When I first came to Christ and asked him to live in me as the boss, I clung onto his promise in Jn 6.37: “whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out”.

This woman knew that she had met Jesus; that she had received healing through her act of faith.  Let me ask you: do you know that you are saved?  The Lord wants EVERY believer to know that they are saved; to have that assurance.  Listen to what Paul says in Romans 8.15f.  When we truly trust in Christ, Christ himself by the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us.  Paul says: “by the Spirit we cry, Abba, Father.  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”. Earlier in Romans (5.5) Paul says: “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.   Let me ask you: Is God’s presence real in your heart?  Is his love a living reality in your heart?  Is his love what motivates you, every day?

Please, be honest with yourself.  This question is a matter of life or death.  Do you have the Spirit’s witness in your heart?  Or are you not sure?

If you have the Spirit’s witness, if you know that you are saved, Praise God!  Let his love flow, let it motivate you in all you do; live for Him.  You can still learn from the woman in Mark 5.  Be just as earnest, as determined as she was, in seeking the Lord.  Be like Paul in Phil 3.12-14.  He says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” And a verse later: “Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”.  Live all out for him.  Throw caution to the winds!  Live to tell others about Christ!  Seek the prize!

But, do you know that you are saved?  Perhaps you are not sure.  If that’s you, act now!  Be like the woman.  Seek the Lord until you find him, until you have that assurance; until “the Spirit himself bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God”.  Be desperate; be determined; don’t stop until you have it.  Jesus taught that there are two ways, only two ways that we can take in life. Matt 7.13: “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.  All mankind are on the wide road to destruction, unless they seek the narrow gate.  “Strive to enter through the narrow door”, Jesus said in Lk 13.24.  Strive to get through that door now.  If death comes for you first, it will be too late!

Here are four simple steps to getting through that door.

Admit you need Christ.  Paul says in Rom 8.9, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ”. [REPEAT IT]. If you don’t have the clear witness of the Spirit in your heart, then I suggest you don’t belong to Christ.  Do you want to risk facing a Christless eternity?  That is a terrifying prospect.

Believe that Christ died for you.  Isa 53.6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all”.  Deliberately believe that Jesus carried and dealt with all your sins.  Your sins now no longer bar you from knowing God and his love.  You can now join Paul in saying Rom 5.1: “Since we have been justified, or put right, by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we now stand.  And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”.  Let these words sink into your heart.

Count the cost.  Jesus by his Spirit takes up residence in your heart when you believe in Him; but He comes as your Lord.  Everything has to go.  Jesus said in Mark 8.34: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their live will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it”.  You no longer have the right to think your own thoughts, to say what you like, to do what you like.  The Spirit, his Spirit in you, has to be in charge.  If you mean business with the Lord, he will enable you to live like this.

Receive the free gift of the Holy Spirit.  Hold onto the promise in Lk 11.13: “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him”.  Keep believing this promise and asking until you have that assurance in your heart.  That assurance is in two ways: You will know the peace and joy of His presence in your heart; and these promises in God’s Word will just fall into place in your heart.  You will know they are true.

That’s it!  Be like the woman in Mark 5.  Let NOTHING stop you.  Press on until you get to  Jesus, you take hold of him, and his Word becomes true in your heart.  Then keep pressing on with him; let his love flow in you and through you; and tell all the world about him.  Because nothing can then separate you from his love (Rom 8.39).

Our third hymn is : 'Beneath the cross of Jesus'

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Prayers of Intercession
Lord, there are so many concerns and people we need to pray for it’s a job to know where to start. Firstly, we bring to you our whole world in all its brokenness, a world you created of beauty and order and which we as humankind have polluted, stripped of resources and upset the balance of nature. In our greed and selfishness many parts of the world suffer hunger, poverty and disease. Forgive us our part in it and show us how each of us can take steps to improve in future.

We lift before you our country  with a royal family having to sort out personal problems made public in the media and a government in disarray. We pray for strong leadership, personal integrity, and for the church to stand firm with its teaching.  

We also lay before you our local communities,  and all who work hard to improve our daily lives. During these difficult months of the pandemic we thank you for those who have worked tirelessly to keep essential services running,   to care for the sick,  and to protect us all by developing a vaccine and delivering it very efficiently. We remember all who are ill with covid and those affected by the death of someone close. We pray that the delta variant will be controlled and affluent countries will share the vaccine with countries unable to provide for their population.

Through technology and imagination our church congregations have been able to keep in touch and worship,   even though buildings are only open at the moment to restricted numbers.   We ask your blessing on our circuit,  all the ministers,  local preachers and lay workers. We pray for Greg and his family as they prepare to move to a new appointment, and for Jacky who will be the new minister for the 3 churches in September.

We ask for comfort and strength for the family of Rev Andrew Barker who died recently,  and give thanks for his ministry at Newmount and Findern.

In a time of silence, bring your own concerns for people and situations,  asking God to intervene with his love and compassion.  

Lastly we ask, that guided by your Spirit, we may be ready to rise to the challenges of spreading the message of your love,    secure in the knowledge that we will be given the words or actions when needed.

Empower us Lord, today and everyday. AMEN

And now let us join together in the example of prayer that Jesus gave 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.
And give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive them 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 final hymn is : 'And can it be that I should gain’

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The Grace

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.

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

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