Saturday 29 February 2020

Genesis 3 v1/7     Matthew 4
 Our passages this morning come from Genesis and Matthew 4, and centre on the theme of temptations which lead to sin.  In defining sin, it is not just a form of sexual acts, but any thought or activity contrary to the Word of God which he has given us in the Bible.

There are certain passages which are hard to understand, but we must accept as the very Word of God.  The Old Testament is largely ignored and few sermons are now preached from it, but Jesus supported it and quoted it regularly.

It has been widely believed that the first chapters of Genesis were not to be taken seriously, but the Bible here tells where we came from, and how we started to grow and where we are today.   Let us start our study this morning by turning to the start of the Bible.         

God created a world of beauty which was perfect, and pure; no sin, a place of peace and tranquillity, and in the words of one song, ‘what a beautiful world’.   

The Bible states, God made man and then created woman as his helper.  God made two people, man and woman, male and female, Adam and Eve; not Tom/Harry or Sharon/Tracy.  We have two people, equal yet different, no question of superiority or inferiority. Both are equal in all respects, but made differently according to God’s purpose. She would have a more caring and tender nature and would bear children.

In the film ‘my fair lady’ Rex Harrison playing a professor of phonetics asks ‘why can’t a woman be like a man, and gets the answer, ‘because she wasn’t created to be’.  We are a mixture that complements one another.

It is important to notice the word ‘helper’.  This is to mean what it says, a man needs more than a friend, and if we men are honest a woman can be a great ‘help’, someone who can be at man’s side, who will give life more meaning, pleasure and support in a way other men can’t; someone to love and cherish, to be equal with him, near to his heart to be loved’.  There is no deeper and more natural relationship than that of a man and a woman.

The task is, to have children, to build society a part of God’s bigger purpose, about the family as the basic building block of society.

God placed the man and woman in a garden, and gave them instruction on how he expected them to behave.  They
disobeyed God, and paradise was destroyed when man and woman sinned; God as not pleased for his intention went wrong when such purity was changed, opposition to his command was soon found, and never more so than today has God’s plan been challenged.  We have a world which has e no absolutes and little shame, and his Church is plagued by false teaching.

The Bible teaches that because Adam and Eve sinned, that has been a thread running through human nature down the ages.  God laid down a right and a wrong, and from the beginning he has been disobeyed.

The homosexual lobby is a well organised and aggressively active body, exerting its influence in every aspect of life, and denying any alternative to its agenda. I think they have promoted their cause most effectively and wish the Church had have responded with equal zeal for Christianity.

It is claimed in the name of absolute equal rights, for two people of the same sex the right to marry, even the right to have children, but such is biologically impossible.  Although there is no mandate or any support for such in the Bible, irresponsible bishops are campaigning for it

There is an obsession to change God’s order of creation, and in the process, there is confusion and disturbed lives. Our children of tender years are being indoctrinated without parental consent. 

How people live their personal lives is a matter entirely for each man and woman, and should be left to do so, but the Church has a duty, as representative of many people, to say what the Bible states; it is known as tolerance and free speech. 
We were given by God the Ten Commandments, and whilst some view them with the attitude pick any three from ten, they have formed the pattern for nations to frame their law.
People try in so many ways to assuage their conscience. I heard it said; God says adultery is wrong but God wants me to be happy. People need to realise when God gave the Commandments, he required all to be obeyed, and his wrath is incurred when disobeyed.
When we doubt God’s goodness, sin doesn’t seem so sinful.  We can always justify disobedience if we try hard enough. But disturbed emotions lead to wrong decisions and ultimate disaster.
People have continued to offend against God despite him sending prophets to guide and lead them, in order to have a relationship with them, for God wants to love all people and wants them to be saved, but he hates sin, and we cannot be in relationship without sin being cleansed and forgiven.
Ultimately God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so we could obtain righteousness and Jesus was soon made to face the devil in a series of three temptations, but resisted by standing firm quoting God’s Word. Each time he resisted setting an example for followers to adopt.
There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, but through the cross of Christ, even our worst sins can be forgiven.  But that gift has to be taken, it is not forced upon us.  Jesus stands ready to be the friend of all, and stands at the door of your heart. Like any door which is not open, he cannot enter, so it is up to each person, each man or woman to open up to him.
Fifty years ago, the gas system in this country was changed from coal gas to natural gas; no pipes of fittings were changed it was just the gas was warmer, through conversion.  People receive conversion when they realize what Jesus did for them on the Cross, dying a painful death so that they would be made righteous before God. There is no physical change, they just see a new kind of life opening up for them, where the normal cares and worries can be offloaded, for Jesus said come unto me all who are burdened, and I will give you comfort and peace.
Each generation believes theirs was better than the current one, but I believe with some justification, this is now a reasonable claim. We have the opportunity of having such wonderful technological objects, and electrical gadgets and machines, which make life so much more pleasant and comfortable.
Yet we are not satisfied society. We are eager to ignore God and all he taught us, and given us, and our morals and some ways of life have slipped to a new low.
I expect there will be disagreement with what I have said, even upset. I do not wish to offend anyone, but as a Methodist speaking to Methodists, let me refer you to John Wesley’s sermon Romans 1. Its is nonsense to say this is 2020 not 1738, but God is the God all ages and is the same today, yesterday and for ever.
The Bible makes clear that ALL Scripture is God’s Word and we are to ‘preach the Word’, not to preach one’s own opinion.
Jesus told the Church leaders, ’it is written in the Scriptures and you know the Scriptures cannot be altered.’ On another occasion he said, ‘I did not come to abolish the law or writing of the prophets.  I came to accomplish them.’
I say this with respect, but if there is any person here this morning who believes the Church in this country is in its entirety faithful to God’ Word, you are not appreciating the true picture, and are unaware of facts.
The sad and shameful thing of all, much as it hurts to say, and shamefully as it is to be, there are men and women Ministers preaching in our Churches who, rather than preaching for repentance, are telling the opposite of the teachings of the Bible, which they call to ignore in order  to facilitate an alternative form living, so leading people astray. Such is offensive to God, who as the bible warns, will judge accordingly.  Incredibly, they don’t view doing such as wrong, and anyone who thinks differently is of course naturally a bigot with some sort of phobia. We have failed God rather than support him.
There are however, pockets of the Church being truly faithful, especially among the black community, but on a wider scale, and in the highest Offices there are those who would choose to abandon the Bible teaching of marriage, once the bedrock of society.
In recent times, with having a disabled wife, I have had much contact with Carers, almost all being black ladies. Each one who I have met carried with them a Bible, and it was not just an accessory, they read an knew its contents. I commented to one lady that this was not common to white ladies (certainly not white men) and I was told it was because the black people were not always treated well by fellow people, but God cared for them and they were faithful in return. How touching is that?

God’s purpose for the Church is to preach salvation; to proclaim the gospel story to an unbelieving world, and if the Church does not unitedly fulfil that purpose, there will be no Church. Aggressive activists have already infiltrated and are influencing the high places with their agenda, which is in no way that which God has laid down.

The gospel is the power that gives salvation, but is bad news for non-believers for it offers no hope for the future. We receive by faith and all you have to do is to reach out with empty hands and Jesus will welcome you with open arms.

You accept Jesus has paid the price for your sins and is now your Lord and Saviour. God is now ready to receive you.  We place our faith in chemists, doctor, pilots, why leave God out? You must have faith and believe.  This is the first Sunday of Lent, an enviable time of forty days for anyone who wants to yield themselves to Jesus to do so.

Let us pray God will protect his Church and bless his people.   Remember you are Methodists and have been bestowed with a great legacy from the two greatest Christian revivalists this country produced, and created a Church with a sold biblical foundation.  Never let that legacy be betrayed by abandoning the gospel Charles and John Wesley proclaimed.

I close with the words of John Wesley
I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!”

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