Saturday 31 August 2013

Syrian question

The news in the last few days in both press and on television has been dominated by the defeat of the government’s motion. So much has been written and spoken about the terrible atrocities in Syria without it being established (yet) as to who was responsible. It certainly looks as if Assad is responsible which is strange really because things seemed to be going well for him which means there was no need to court worldwide condemnation. It is right and proper to widely publicise and condemn such action.

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke well when he pointed out that Christians were being persecuted in Syria and revenge is being taken against them by people we are supporting. Any military action taken by this country would lead to more aggression against them.

Whilst the Prime Minister is outraged by what he sees as Assad’s action, were was the Prime Minister’s outrage when Christians were being brutally murdered simply for being Christians? Houses have been destroyed, ancient Churches burned to the ground, and men women and children tortured without a word being uttered by any of our leaders.

In Iraq, Libya, Egypt and now Syria, Christians are being forced to flee for their safety in those countries. In each case the government in this country has supported the rebels who have shown total aggression against Christians, and we have provided assistance, which has ultimately been used against the Christians. There is of course systematic persecution of Christians in numerous other countries around the world, again consisting of violence, arson and murder, and in countries where we generously give financial aid.

If the Prime Minister and his colleagues were consistent in their compassion, they could be as eager to stop cheques to oppressive lands as they are to fire Cruise missiles into others.

We know the Prime Minister can be passionate about issues; we saw that when he demoralised Christians in this country with his (so called) passion to re-define marriage. I believe he was less than forthright when he offered to exclude the Church of England from the need to perform such false ceremonies, yet must have known that some couple would force the issue, as has happened, and threaten to sue the Church and pursue the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.

Minority groups are not known for their tolerance. Having been granted a major concession despite overwhelming opposition, they were not satisfied with anything less than being granted complete compliance with their demands.

Would it not be wonderful if Christians across the world were given support?

Tuesday 27 August 2013

(A sermon preached at Oakley Methodist Church on Sunday 25th August. Readings 2Timothy 4 v 1/5; Matthew 16 v13/20)

This morning I want to focus on the verse, ‘I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’.

Jesus knew the Church would always be attacked, so was assuring His protection. Such words are to be a comfort in knowing the Lord will never desert us. The Church has survived over many hard times and whilst Empires have come and gone, only the Church has survived through the ages.

If the building of Christ’s Church is to continue the work has to be carried out by His followers, and be built on the foundation Jesus laid, that is the teaching in the New Testament. In every sense of the word, Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church. The Bible states, No one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid, that is Jesus Christ. He is also the head of the body, the church, with Himself as the cornerstone

This is important to remember because everything the church is and does should emanate from this truth. Many churches today have over the years drifted away from their origins and are no longer recognizable as being founded upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. Let us never forget that we exist to exalt Jesus. Everything we are is about Him.

Whilst the Church in the West is in decline, the Churches in Africa, Asia and South America are flourishing. This is because they have not been dismantling the Bible as many are trying to do here.

The Bible states it is the will of God that those who belong to Jesus must belong to His Church. We may not always worship in the same way, but we should share the same beliefs. We may have disagreements, but they can be resolved with good will; Methodism itself came from such a disagreement.

The Bible states we should worship in spirit and in truth. In spirit by coming with a sincere desire to please God—glorify Him- and worship Him with reverence and awe.

In truth can create problems for some people. Jesus said He would build His Church, but it seems as there are those who are replying and we will pull it down. When a builder constructs a building invariably a covenant is placed on it restricting what may be added or altered. Jesus effectively did so with His Church when He gave His teaching in the New Testament, giving instruction as to what should and should not be taught and believed.

The faith and belief of the Church are built on two essential doctrines; salvation by grace through faith and the authority of Scripture. These may not be important to some, but they are the fundamentals to true and real Christians. Such were the themes of the preaching of Charles and John Wesley. Remember the words of John Wesley ‘I want to know one thing; the way to heaven, how to land on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book; at any price give me that book’. I fear John and Charles would find a lot of preaching these days not to their liking.

Truth is not a DIY subject, God has spoken. Those who dispute His Word do so for their own purposes, often to justify the manner of their living. It is in effect saying, we reject the authority of the Bible and substitute our own authority. God has told us clearly what He expects.

Charles Wesley once stated, ‘the manner of living as well as attending Church was important for a Christian.’ I once held a service to honour Charles Wesley and the research I made caused me to realise how far we have moved from the ideals of the founders of Methodism, which at one time had such a profound effect on this land.

The doctrine of the church has fallen on hard times these days. Paul warned that people will turn away from truth because it requires admission of human weakness, the restraint of passions and submission to the authority of God. They will look for those who will teach them what they want to hear, who share their preferences and are prepared to re-interpret Scripture accordingly. There seems to be no shortage of such teachers.
We have sacrificed sound doctrine in favour of cultural trends and the consequences have been disastrous. To many, church membership means little or nothing.

That is why if there was ever a day when Christians need to be certain the doctrine of the church and to know what they the church exists for, it is today. Unless we know what we believe we will not know who we are and how we should live or why we must live that way
When I was ordained I had to affirm before my Bishop that I would accept the formularies and Articles of the Church of England; such state that Holy Scripture contains all that is necessary for salvation and the pure Word of God is to be preached. I am sure other denominations have similar requirements. Why in so many cases has it all not been so?

Sadly, there are those who are trying to change the Church’s teaching so as to correspond with contemporary thinking. I heard one Vicar state that she didn’t think the Bible should be taken literally. If a minority cannot accept the teaching and tradition of the Church, they should for the good of the Church family have the grace to sacrifice rather than create division. There are so many living in spiritual darkness that the Church should not be wasting time on personal ambitions and preferences. When we consider the moral state of the country, all our energies should be concentrated on bringing the nation back to God. We have to give faithful witness to the gospel message as it is written.

We all have apart to play in building the Church. This was the message Peter and Paul took up so often; that Christians have a responsibility to maintain the faith. Clearly the major task falls on preachers to teach the true gospel and instruct on the way lives should be lived in accordance with biblical teaching. But all Christians also have a duty to live worthily of the Lord and not be ashamed to confess their faith, but to do all they can to promote the Church.

With this in mind, from the loneliness of a prison cell in Rome, Paul wrote his last Letter, sending it to Timothy whom he had chosen to take over ministry from him. No other passage in Scripture describes more accurately the day in which we live. The overwhelming majority is committed to unbelief and there seems nothing we can do to stop the downhill slide of our day.

Paul begins by reminding Timothy that he is ministering in the presence of God and in the sight of Jesus Christ, the One who will be the judge of all and before whom every heart is exposed and before whom we will all stand and give account.

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to preach the word. A true church is a church which preaches the word of God, and this means however unpopular it appears; we are here to tell people not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.

The great Methodist preacher of the last century, W E Sangster once said ‘preaching is in the darkness; the world does not believe it’. Certainly the modern idea is to keep preaching to the minimum and fill in with drama or asking questions. Consequently people come to Church without any expectation of an encounter with God.
People have a right to expect those speaking as Ministers of the Church to preach the Word of God so unbelievers may come to believe and those in doubt may be strengthened. When Ministers substitute personal views for other reasons, they are exceeding their remit.

When you are a true believer it means that you not only agree with the moral and ethical teaching of Scripture, but also that you live out those teachings in your life. It is hypocritical to mouth words and then go and act contrary to what you have condemned.

Each year the Methodist Church holds a Covenant Service in which listening to the Word in scripture, read and preached is specifically mentioned, and during the Covenant promise it is stated, ‘in some we may please Christ and please ourselves; in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.

Many so called churches have become anything but a New Testament church and no longer fulfil their biblically assigned role. Some have turned into places with a political agenda. Some have become little more than places of entertainment where you go to feel good. A Vicar once actually told me we should make people feel happy and not be boring with doctrine.

I have seen baptism services held when quite a number of strangers attended, and rather than take the opportunity of speaking about what baptism meant, and our faith, the speaker waffled about personal memories or held a sort of question and answer session.

The preaching of gospel of Jesus Christ is what should be central in our churches. This is what we exist for. Instead we are giving out a confused image and people naturally feel if we can’t get the message straight between ourselves, we are not in a position to preach to them.

We are not here to be like a spiritual dispensary giving out soothing prescriptions, although some of our messages will offer comfort. We are not merely here for us to gather in a sort of holy huddle, although we receive inspiration and encouragement. We are here to spread the gospel and expand the Christ’s Kingdom, and if the Church is to survive in this country, this is a must.

The Church remains on earth to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth, by bearing witness to Christ in all places at all times. You and I are called to advance that work; do not let anyone tell you that your life as a Christian does not count. It counts tremendously. Take pride in being a Christian and never be ashamed to confess your faith.

Saturday 24 August 2013

Stories from the Press.
The Archbishop of Canterbury whilst visiting Mexico made a speech criticising divisions in the Anglican Churches across the world, stating the Church was tottering on the brink of complete disintegration amid bitter disputes between liberals and traditionalists, coming close to plunging into a ravine of intolerance. In what was a strange and puzzling analogy, he likened the atmosphere to that which existed during the Civil War in England.

Churches will, and have a right to do so, feel his remarks are both offensive and completely out of order. To suggest that the behaviour of the Church was like a drunken man staggering to the edge of a cliff is immoderate. The Archbishop was referring to divisions over issues such as homosexuality. I am sure the Churches in Africa and Asia believe they are on sure footing as they proceed on a biblical foundation.

Perhaps if the Archbishop was more firm himself and tell us what his views are it might be more appropriate. In the House of Lords he spoke against the same sex marriage bill, but later began to waver. To my knowledge he has not declared whether he would sanction the ordination of a homosexual priest in an active relationship with another man. Until he makes his decisions on complex issues known it would be wiser not to pass adverse criticism elsewhere.

He is quoted as saying the issues being fought over are incomprehensible to people outside the Church, On that I would not disagree, but is this not the Church’s fault for not spelling out in unequivocal terms a definitive statement of belief. Are we to be so influenced by ‘what people outside think’? If we started to quote the Bible more perhaps they might feel comprehensible.

It would have been more accurate to state that liberal Churches are causing all the problems by their determination to dismantle the Bible and re-interpret it to justify a new morality. The Roman Catholic Church sent out a clear message under Pope Benedict in the plainest of terms, it is time the Archbishop takes a similar line and stops sitting on the fence.

Any cause for complaint is due to the fact that there is no one in authority in the Anglican Church who is prepared to come out and say the Bible condemns homosexual behaviour. (A simple truth) This does not justify any intolerance or harassment of any person, which the Church would condemn; it is not passing judgement on any person(s), it is just stating a fact which would clarify the situation for those who might want to know the Bible’s teaching.

It would also be more honourable to state that nowhere in Scripture is there any authority to appoint women as bishops, but the Anglican Church (at least in the West) believes that the Church should follow society and adopt an equal opportunity programme. It is realised this would cause schism between the Anglican against the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, but this is not thought to be a necessary consideration.

The man who is the best Archbishop the Church never had, Bishop Nazir-Ali, has admirably supported the (Girl) Guides who wish to retain God in their pledge. One unit in Yorkshire wants to retain the old wording, but a new leader anxious to make a name and show she is a modern woman, insists there is no place for God.

How sad that comments to the Daily Mail website, which told the story, felt it necessary to express surprise at a Christian leader, making a stand at what was described as the actions of a trendy, left wing feminist.

Saturday 17 August 2013

2 Timothy Chapter 1.
Some of us have come close to death due to a frightening experience or we have seen a loved one or friend come to the end of their life, which causes us to reflect on things which are important to us. If we had to write a letter to set out our deepest wishes to those we leave behind, we would most probably mention that which is closest to our heart. This is what this Letter from Paul to Timothy is doing, and has an urgent message for our time.

This Letter to Timothy is my favourite one in the Bible because it is so very relevant to the Church of to-day. Unlike other Letters of Paul, it is written to a person, not to the Church in general.

Paul is nearing the end of his life and wants his mission to pass to Timothy who he feels he can trust. He realises the importance of godly leadership for the future, and the importance of it being in the hands of someone who will be faithful to the gospel, as it is written, and who will pass it on to succeeding generations. What a lesson for those seeking leadership of the Anglican Church.

Like many in positions of leadership now, Timothy was timid and fearful of upsetting people in a world which was hostile to Christianity, and lacked confidence in preaching. Paul didn’t want timidity; he said ‘God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and discipline.’ Paul was writing when the Church was under threat, some of which came from within the Church as well as from those outside, and they weren’t making any gains or impact on society.

How history repeats itself. You will see from that introduction some clear parallels to the situation in which the Church is now. There have been some terrible abuses of morality; the gospel and Bible have been abused; we have been ready to accept all that and the pluralism of society with the statement that all religions are equal. Indeed, at one time sharia law was seen as acceptable by an Archbishop of Canterbury.

Whilst Paul sought to have a man of conviction to succeed himself you can be sure anyone who has conviction will be avoided in today’s Church, the idea of having someone who will speak and give teaching with an unequivocal voice with emphasis on Scripture. has no place in many circles.

Two men who were Jehovah’s witnesses called at my door to witness and I always play fair and tell from the start who I am. I was asked a number of questions including if I believed the Bible was the whole Word of God, and when I answered, I was asked how I could be a priest in the Church of England and believe as I said. This reveals the image the Church has, and whilst I am sure that there are many with traditional orthodox beliefs, even if not as conservative as myself, it is clear the liberal section have set the image. We are thus living in a society where many are totally confused as to what the Church really does believe.

This Letter of Paul could have been full of self pity, but instead he chooses to encourage someone he loves to communicate the faith. He reminds Timothy of the blessing of having had a Christian heritage. Many of us were brought up in a Christian home where we told Bible stories, sent to Sunday School, and/or taken to Church by our parents, attended school assemblies with lovely old hymns. Many children do not have that blessing and know little or nothing of the Bible.

Grandmothers had and still do have a big part to play as children are growing up now in a time of spiritual and moral confusion, and unless attending a private or free school are not likely to have much religious teaching.

Paul refers to sound teaching and makes it clear the only sound teaching is that based on Scripture; this is the only teaching for spiritual health.

Paul states ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation’. The response from many people, even within the Church is ‘you can’t say that it’s too narrow it’s discriminating and exclusive’, and would find this objectionable. Why should they be shocked that there is only one way to be saved, Shouldn’t we be utterly and thankfully amazed that there is a way to be saved at all?

The Bible is a book all about salvation, and there has never been any doubt that the only way to be saved is through Jesus Christ. He is the focus and climax of the Bible from start to finish. This has been the message from all the great evangelists.
Today, no less than in any other age, it is this intense biblical integrity that is needed. Fearless courage and conviction to stand for the truth that Jesus Christ is the only name that saves.
We will find that we will meet opposition when we declare our faith, we shouldn’t be surprised, and we should expect it. Public officials are ever anxious to erase Christianity from the public arena.
An article in the Daily Mail once told of business women converting to Islam because it has higher moral standards, respects traditional values and is very spiritual. There is no higher moral standard than Christianity; it is untrue, unfair and naïve to suggest that Islam or any other religion has finer values and qualities than Christianity. It is true to say that Islam is a moral religion and its clerics promote it vigorously. I am surprised that women would find Islam attractive when some sections seem to believe they have no rights at all. Consider the plight of the eleven years old schoolgirl who was shot for speaking out for the right to attend school in Pakistan.

It is also true to say Christian preachers tend to modify teaching of traditional values to appeal to contemporary thinking, and for fear of offending one of the many discrimination laws promoted equally vigorously by vociferous minorities, so falling foul of the law, which is not enforced against other faiths with the same enthusiasm as against Christian preachers.

At the present time in this country we don’t go to prison for spreading the gospel, (not yet that is) although we are getting there, as punitive legislation has led to some preachers being arrested by police for preaching biblically, with a zeal not displayed against criminals.
The last government enacted legislation which was anti-Christian, and against the beliefs and conscience of Christians, and the present government seems keen to endorse it, and go further with the ridiculous proposal for same sex marriage, and it needs to be challenged at every opportunity.

The gospel story we are called to proclaim is the good news about what God has done to rescue us from the consequences of our sin. Each of us falls short of the standard that we ought to meet, and so justice demands that we pay a price. The problem, fundamentally, is a moral one. People like to pretend that morality is just some arbitrary set of rules made up by other people who want to control how we behave. It’s not. But God has given us the chance to be absolved from the mess we have got into, and the punishment we deserve. He has done this through the Cross.
Whilst a price has to be paid for our sins, God decided to help us by taking that punishment upon Himself. On the Cross Jesus suffered a most cruel punishment on our behalf so there is no longer any price for us to pay. But that requires us turning from our sin and putting our faith in Him and living according to the standard laid down by God in His Holy Word. Why should anyone be ashamed to tell that story?
We may not be able or indeed desire to preach in the same way as of old, but whilst we may change our style we still have an important message to proclaim and it must not be watered down to suit modern susceptibilities. To be ashamed infers that one is reluctant to admit to something, a desire to disassociate oneself from it.

There is an ever present strong temptation to do so when there is so much theological and moral confusion; when you are dismissed as a fundamentalist for believing the Bible; when there is so much opposition; when there is encouragement to water down the gospel to make it more acceptable; when we don’t want to declare our faith in case we are sneered or laughed at.

We cannot be ashamed of the gospel. How would people hear? How
can they call on the One they have not believed in; and how can they believe in the One they have never heard; and how can they hear if no on preaches it to them?

How many Church members are embarrassed when asked if they believe? Indeed how many are ready to acknowledge they attend Church. How would we answer if asked to give our opinion on moral questions? If you are not ashamed you are ready to speak out about your faith.

The reason Paul was not ashamed and was eager to preach the gospel, was because it was the power of God for salvation, a teaching scorned by so many in the world. . There is no other power known to men which can do that. All other religions have a philosophy, we have a man. No other spiritual leader can forgive, only Christ can forgive.
How many preachers would be ready to stand in one of our Cathedrals and state this? How many would be allowed to? So many preachers are afraid of what people, and especially what the papers would report. But look at the praise heaped on Pope Benedict by the press for his bold and brave words in telling the politicians to stop interfering with the Christian faith, and calling for a vigorous Christian outpouring to combat the aggressive secularism pervading our society.
The Bible states ‘no one can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ’ Paul said you may be ashamed of saying these things but I am not.

Friday 9 August 2013


It is the last night before His death and Jesus is giving instructions to stress the absolute necessity of a close relationship between Him and us. To do this He uses the illustration of a vine and its branches.

Jesus often used scenes which were from Jewish heritage. Israel is portrayed as the vineyard, and one of the glories of the Temple was the great golden vine with clusters of grapes placed in front of the Holy place. This is taken from the story of Moses receiving clusters of grapes from spies he had sent out to view the land of Canaan.

Jesus said He was the true vine and the Jews could not claim that just because they were Jews they were a branch of the vine. It had to be understood He was the vine not the land of Israel, for only He could offer salvation and the only means of having that was to have a belief in Him. Only a personal relationship with Jesus can make a person right with God.

The vine grew wildly but needed much attention. The vine needed much pruning and so was cut drastically for without that the vine would not produce good fruit. Jesus knew His followers were like that. Some were fruit bearing, but others were like the dead branches. In His teaching Jesus saw the Jews as the branches of the vine as did all the prophets, but the people would not accept Jesus. He also knew that one day people claiming to be Christians would hear His teaching, profess to follow Him, but in practice would not.

The vine gets its strength and fertility from the stem, and apart from that the branch has no life of its own. Sap flows from the stem to the leaves and blossoms the fruit, and if cut off would die.

The relationship between Jesus and the believer has to be just as close and real for we have no spiritual life, all the power comes from Him; we draw our strength from the Lord. We are assured of our salvation and our place in heaven when we remained joined to Him. The non believer may scorn and mock us for resting our faith from stories in an old Jewish book written many years ago but will one day regret such ridicule and envy our place. It has to be accepted as fact that there are many men and women professing to be Christians who are not what they claim to be. They are like branches of the vine which bear no fruit. In every Church there are people whose relationship is more make believe than real. They have been baptised, confirmed and even hold office within the Church, even are clergy ranging from the highest clerical positions to people in the pews. They may make much profession, and as we are regularly reading and hearing do not accept the authority of Scripture.

We even find Bishops increasingly tolerant of immoral behaviour which contradicts the Bible, and who prefer to adopt the philosophy of society and say things have changed now we are in the 21st century. God was not just a God of the first century, His Word endures for all times. Well has it been said that the spirit of the age has invaded the Church, and infected it. If people wish to reject the contents of the Bible that is their choice, but will one day regret such decision.

To have a casual relationship with Jesus is like being a non fruit bearing branch of the vine, you produce nothing and give nothing. There are many instances of a young person who leaves home and falls into bad ways, because he/she has separated from the family. As long as they are with the family they are strong and cared for but when they break away they fall. Having a relationship with Jesus provides the strength to meet the problems of life and prevents one from falling into the ways of the unjust. And you need constant attachment just like the branches of the vine. This passage shows the offer Jesus makes to help them become more worthy and better Christians. If we abide in Him and His teaching we can ask and seek an answer. Be therefore in close communion with Jesus, lean on Him, and keep His words in your mind so that they will be the guide of your life. And be in Church on Sunday.

Saturday 3 August 2013

John 12
John;s gospel in Chapter 12,verses 20-33. Turn with me to this passage which John alone tells.

Jesus had entered Jerusalem for the Passover festival having just raised Lazarus from the dead, and was receiving an enthusiastic welcome from crowds of people gathered for the festival. This was the major festival held annually to remember how God saved Israel. But there were some who did not welcome Jesus, and indeed were plotting His death.

At such a time as this many Gentiles would go to the city and although not Jews would join in the celebrations. Some Greeks were amongst the crowds who had heard of Jesus and were determined to meet Him. They were from a settlement in the North of Galilee and went to Philip who came from near their area and said to him, ‘Sir, we want to see Jesus’.

Having heard the stories of what Jesus had done they realised something was missing from their lives and wanted to receive from Him that something So when they said they wanted to see Jesus, they were in fact seeking a meeting with Him.

In many small evangelical churches in the United States, they have these words inscribed on the pulpit to remind the preacher that people have come to hear about Jesus Christ. . I had the joy of preaching recently at a small Methodist Church which had the same words inscribed on the pulpit. It is a call to the preacher that he must only preach Jesus Christ and not engage in philosophy, politics, or be submissive to political correctness. These words were the theme of the preacher when I was ordained at Chester Cathedral, one of the godliest men you could possibly meet

When Jesus was told of their request He was pleased and responded immediately. He had not gone to Jerusalem to enter for the same purpose as the crowds had in mind, events were building up and were leading to the time of our Lord’s road to the Cross. So when He heard a group of people were genuinely seeking Him, He said, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.

The Jews would not have understood what Jesus meant. For them the Son of Man conveyed an image of someone who would lead to world conquest and so attain glory, but Jesus meant it was time for Him to make the supreme sacrifice for the world by dying on the Cross so bringing glory to Him and to God

He went on to say "Truly, truly, I say to you." Whenever Jesus used those words, it meant that He was going to say something important. Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone." He was pointing out that when a seed died ir brought forth fruit, and death brings life through people.

As Christians were martyred for the faith, so the Church grew, and He was here meaning that He was like the grain of wheat and unless He went to the cross, His whole purpose in coming to earth will have been in vain. He knew what He had to face, and that He is going to be glorified through the sacrifice the cross, because by that cruel death the way to forgiveness for all believers was made possible. If He had not made the sacrifice on the Cross, you and I and everybody else, could not have forgiveness. His death meant eternal life for all who believed in Him.

When He met those Greeks it was as the first sign that the gospel was to go to all the world, and part of God’s plan to bring salvation to the Gentiles, the symbol of the great harvest for which He came.

If He had not died we probably would not know any more about Him for He would have just been another figure of history, of no greater significance than any other great religious leader. Because of the cross, He was able to do something He could never have done otherwise.

Jesus said the one loves their life will lose it. He was referring to those who live solely for themselves and out to get as much as they can without thought for others. Billy Graham received offers which would have made him a very rich man, but made clear his greatest desire was to preach the gospel for which he only took the salary of an ordinary Baptist Minister.

Christians generally are called to put service of the Lord first, and indeed there are many men and women who could have followed brilliant careers for rich rewards, but chose to go on mission fields far away from their homeland.

We see the humanity of Jesus displayed when He expressed his fear at the thought of the Cross, but was ready to give obedience to God and suffer much pain which would ultimately lead to triumph. God spoke to Jesus in His hour of torment, just as He did at His baptism and when on the Mount of Transfiguration. God is always ready to give strength when we seek it for the tasks we face in His name and cause

At the cross, Jesus underwent the judgement we deserve and paid our debt to God. His death gives us hope of everlasting life with Him one day. He wants to give you that hope in your life today. He alone can give you that new life that can never fade, and you can find that new life by meeting Jesus.

People in these high pressure days are so often weary and depressed and looking for that spiritual something. People are looking for something beyond themselves, looking for a way that gets the most out of life, yet carrying a load of guilt, fear and worry. Jesus said, ‘come unto me all you are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest’

A day is coming when we will all see Jesus. The Bible says everyone will assemble before Him as He sits on the judgement throne. Some will go one way with the goats, some the other way with the sheep. We will have either joy in the after life with Jesus, or eternity with the lost. The criterion is how we respond whilst we are here on earth. The bible says ‘now is the time of God’s favour, now is the time of salvation’. It will be too late after we have died, and no amount of intercession will then save us.

May we ever be like the Greeks in our passage today and want to see Jesus and seek Him with all our hearts.