Here are the slides that were shown during the message on Sunday morning, 17th February:
I was brought up in a Christian family. It was such a blessing, although you don’t always realise that at the time. Sometimes you think you’re restricted and can’t do what other people do because your parents make you go to church. I heard the gospel every Sunday night and I gave my heart to the Lord when I was quite young really. I can’t remember a specific day or time. I think when you’re born into a Christian household it can be a gradual process. Certainly not “black to white” like my husband’s conversion!
When I was in my teens and going through a rather rebellious stage I really asked Jesus to help me and come into my life again. I know that He’s always been with me, though it hasn’t always been easy! The Holy Spirit gives you a conscience. As you face things in your life you think “That’s not where Jesus would have me go,” or “That’s not what Jesus would have me do.” I think as a Christian your conscience is activated whereas when you’re not a Christian you don’t have those feelings, you just do what you want to do. You need to be forgiven by God constantly because you keep failing, but you still have a sense of His love and faithfulness.
There are lots of times when God has shown His faithfulness to me! A text that has always helped me is “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”* I feel that the Lord has been my “Rock Eternal.”
Times when He’s really proved Himself to me over the years? If I hadn’t had God in my life I don’t know where I would have turned. Especially when we had our first daughter, who was born completely paralysed from the waist downwards, which was such a terrible shock. But I felt that the Lord helped me to cope with it. He gave me a peace in my heart that couldn’t have come from anywhere else. Otherwise I would have panicked and wouldn’t have known what to do. The Lord helped me through that.
Another time was particularly when my husband, Alan, was travelling a lot (for those who don’t know, my husband worked with a mission called “Open Doors” which involved him travelling a lot). He was away from home frequently while I was bringing up three young children. They always asked all the awkward questions when he was away! So, there was no way I could say “Ask your Dad!” I really cried to God for wisdom in those times and I believe He gave it to me.
One time, the mission Alan was involved in meant taking Bibles to Eastern Europe in the Cold War days. On one of the trips he was on, I and the three children went with him. We never thought it would happen to us, but we were caught. Alan was taken into prison by the KGB and then they took me for questioning. They took our three children away, which was horrible. But somehow, God gave me that peace inside even though we didn’t know what was happening. I seemed to have a calm that, even to myself, was unexpected. I never would have believed that God would have given me such calm in those circumstances. When they eventually released me and took me back to the place where they had left the children, I put the radio on. The radio played “Rivers of Babylon,” which was a pop song by Bony-M, but to me it was a sign from God that he was with me because those words are from Scripture. I thought: “Here we are, in an East-Bloc country and God’s given me this sign that He’s with me!” It was just amazing. It says, further on in the song: “How can we sing the songs of the Lord, while in a foreign land?” And I thought, “we’re in a foreign land, and although it’s a pop song, it’s a song of the Lord.” So that was a real comfort to me, during a time when I had no idea what was going to happen to us.
A further time was 2009 when I was very ill with an undiagnosed illness. I’d been ill for weeks and finally ended up with septicaemia, peritonitis and a thrombosis on the portal vein! Because they couldn’t diagnose what was the matter with me, Alan eventually called the prayer team from church into the hospital. I was really out of it, but I was conscious that they were there and praying for me. Two days later I had a diagnosis and although in everyone’s eyes I should have died, God brought me through. So I believe He still had a work for me to do – and here I am!
Casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7.
During the second world war, two sisters were put in the notorious Ravensbruck concentration camp. There names were Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom. They both loved the Lord Jesus. Betsie was to die in the prison, but Corrie was to survive and to go on to become an author and international Christian speaker. The film “The Hiding Place” tells the story of these two sisters. Before she died, Betsie made a very profound statement to Corrie, which still speaks to us today, especially when life causes us to pass through deep trials.
“We must tell them what we have learned here. We must tell them that there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still. They will listen to us, Corrie, because we have been here.”
Betsie Ten Boom
In the book of Lamentations in the Bible we read this:
I called on your name, Lord,
from the depths of the pit.
You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears
to my cry for relief.”
You came near when I called you,
and you said, “Do not fear.”
Lamentations 3:55-57 (NIV)
The good news of Jesus Christ is a royal invitation sent from the King of Kings to every human being, bad or good, to share His joy in heaven. If they respond, they will have a glorious future of joy, celebration and total absence of sorrow – for ever more.
Incredibly, there is a low take-up on the offer. The Lord Jesus speaks of this with a parable (Luke 14:15-24) where a King is giving a lavish banquet,sends out the invitations, then says “Come, for everything is now ready.” But those invited snub and insult their gracious host with lame excuses for not attending.
Here’s a few 21st Century excuses people give for choosing hell over heaven.
“There is no God!”
Some would rather cheerfully hide behind a Stephen Hawking theory which expects us to believe that everything came from a speck-sized particle. Many scientists who are not Christians find this too much to swallow. Gerhard Kraus says: “The idea that a speck of matter smaller than a dust particle on my table could have accommodated the condensed mass of the entire universe stretches credibility beyond its limits… the Big Bang theory must be seriously questioned”1
The Bible states unapologetically, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”2
Stephen Hawking says, “In the beginning was a cosmic egg, the size of a speck of dust”3
Why the readiness to accept an unreasonable theory rather than that there is a ‘beautiful Mind’ behind it all? The apostle Paul speaks of those “who suppress the truth by their wickedness,since what may be known about God is plain to them…For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”4
“When you’re dead, you’re dead, there’s no afterlife!”
God has placed within each of us an instinctive desire for justice. We watch the TV news and exclaim, “That’s not right! That’s not fair!” We make judgments using our inbuilt ‘moral monitor’ and are glad when the perpetrators of crimes are brought to justice. All this points to the day of perfect justice set by God – which all of us must face.
The Bible states: “Man is destined to die once, and after that is the judgement”5
“Life is too short, live it for yourself!”
The thinking of today which is preached at us wherever we turn is; “Your happiness is all that matters”. Lose your mind in drink or drugs, leave your spouse and kids, pursue your dream, live recklessly: <insert your own excuse here>! Others may get hurt…but as long as YOU are happy, that’s all that matters.
The Bible tells of a man who, having worn himself out in the selfish pursuit of his own happiness, came to the right conclusion that the purpose of life (and the way to discover TRUE happiness) was to:
‘Fear God and keep his commandments,for this is the duty of all mankind.’6
“I am spiritual, but I’m ‘sitting on the fence’ with the Jesus thing!”
The Bible speaks of only two groups of people – those who have repented of their sin and trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and those who have not. We are in the kingdom or out, in light or in darkness, born again or not born again, on the road to heaven or on the road to hell. There is no fence.
The Bible states: ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.’7
No more excuses. “Come, everything is now ready’ says Lord Jesus. “Come!” All are invited to share in God’s everlasting joy. Young or old, respectable or vile. Come with all your doubts and all your fears.
Come now, you don’t know if you have tomorrow.
The Bible says:
‘NOW is the time of God’s favour
NOW is the day of salvation’8
Listen to Mike’s message on this subject here
1 Gerhard Kraus: Has Hawking Erred?
2 Genesis 1:1
3 Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time
4 Romans 1: 18-20
5 Hebrews 9:27
6 Ecclesiastes 12:13
7 John 3:36
8 2 Corinthians 6:2
For the Israelites in 1 Samuel 17, Goliath was this dominant voice. For forty days all 9ft plus of this armour clad warrior trod down from the Philistine battle lines to his valley of defiance. There, he bellowed his abusive mockery at God and his people.
The Israelite army heard this thunderous voice, echoing across the valley each day. They were understandably dismayed and terrified about their certain defeat. They were destined to be enslaved by the Philistines.
We need to question the source of the voices we hear, especially when they become a dominant voice in our lives like Goliath. What is going on behind the scenes? The source of Goliath’s voice is clearly Satan booming out death, defeat and dismay for the LORD’s people and full of disdain for the LORD.
Living in this world, Satan’s voice is behind a great number of the things we hear regularly. Who will silence this hate-filled mockery?
Step forward the rugged Bethlehem boy, David, who enters Goliath’s satanic stronghold alone. No armour, sword or speech; just a sling and the name of the LORD as his battle cry. He stepped forward representing all of Israel, their fate on his shoulders. Yet David was confident: “The LORD will deliver me,” was his heart’s cry.
This battle reminds us of another bloody battle that took place. Jesus, the man of sorrows, also went alone as man’s representative into Satan’s stronghold. He became a public spectacle of weakness, lifted up on a cross. Satan disgraced and seemingly defeated the son of God. Yet Jesus knew when he was lifted up, Satan would be driven out. Like David finished off Goliath using the giant’s own sword, Jesus silenced Satan with his own weapon. The very thing Satan sought to destroy Jesus with, the cross, was the means by which Jesus defeated the accuser’s power. “Jesus came to turn men from the power of Satan to God so that they might receive forgiveness of sins.”
Has Satan been in your ear? Telling you “You are not good enough, you are a disgrace, give up following God, enjoy a little sin, live for today.”
David’s smooth stone skimmed through the air and sunk into Goliath’s forehead, he fell to the floor with a thud, the voice of Satan silenced. David silenced Satan for a time in his generation. Jesus has silenced Satan for all of time for those who have Christ as their representative.
One of Satan’s chief weapons, the accusation of unforgiven sin, is silenced by the victory of Christ at the cross. Today, the voice of Satan is in this world, but you do not need to listen to him. He is a sergeant major barking his orders, but if you are in Christ you are no longer in his army and no longer need to heed his voice. Rather listen to the voice of the saviour who tells us “In me you may have peace.”