Sunday 5 July 2020 – Church at Home

Intimations

  • Morning worship online has moved to start at 10am and JAM at 11:30am on the Zoom platform.
  • You may want to use some of the Engage Worship resources for daily worship during this week.
  • The Messy Church At Home information is available on our website.
  • We will be continuing the Prayer Livestream at 7.00pm on Sunday’s.  This will be another significant time of national prayer for us. Please join in and, if you don’t already do so, would you let your fellowship know about this and put it on your social media. Click here to access.

JAM Kids’ focus:

Here is the new video series from Out of the Box for JAM Kids age group.

Worksheet 4 to accompany this talk

Call to worship

You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 

Joshua 23:14

We are grateful to Alan McRobbie for selecting the songs for worship for this service

Our opening song of praise and worship is:

We continue to worship the Lord in our second song of praise and worship:

Opening prayer

Lord we come reverently into Your holy presence today with a sense of privilege that as children of the King of Kings we may enter directly Your presence with our praises and offering of worship.

We are so thankful for all that You have done for us, supremely through the person of Your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. We come to adore You and acknowledge that we have done nothing that merits Your generosity to us. But Your grace is amazing, Your unmerited favour to us cleanses us from our sins and clothes us with the righteousness of Jesus, so that we stand before You today in His name with great joy.

Thank you heavenly Father for the gift of Your Holy Spirit to equip and enables us to go forward with confidence into this new week, strengthen us for all that lies ahead of us. Open our hearts that we might hear You speak as Your Holy Word is read and preached later in this service, for Jesus’ sake Amen

Let us say together the words Jesus taught His disciples when He said:

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'”      
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever Amen.

All Age Talk – Alan McRobbie

If you were to buy a book from a shop, it would belong fully and legally to you.

But, what if the book could talk, it might argue with you: “What are you doing? What right do you have to take me with you? I don’t want to belong to you. I’d rather belong to myself. I want to stay with all the other books here.”

What would you say? You would tell the book, “But, I paid for you and now you belong to me.” The book would have no choice but to go with you. You’re the rightful owner with full authority over the book.

I wonder if we realise that there is someone who owns us. Our owner is Jesus. He became our owner with full authority over us, at great cost to Himself. Unlike the few pounds we bought our book with.

Jesus paid a huge price with his life to buy us back to be with Him. Because He gave His life to buy us back, we belong to Him and He legally owns us.

But, although we belong to Him, Jesus still waits for us to decide to hand ourselves over to Him willingly. He would never force us. He wants us to choose Him, and He gave us a choice. Unlike the book, we can make choices and can decide what we do.

This is why it’s important for us to see that we are no longer our own. We belong to the One who bought us. If we really see all that Jesus did to have us back with Him, and why He wants us back, we’ll understand why he owns us. When we really understand how much it cost Him to own us, we would give ourselves to Him, not just because He owns us, but also because we have seen the love that he has for us and that makes us love Him too.

Once we know and understand the huge price Jesus paid to have us back and why, we can decide whether we want to come to Jesus. Jesus wants you, but do you want Him? And no one can make that decision but you.

If you want to understand more about the price Jesus paid for you and why, read Mathew, Mark, Luke or John in the Bible or if you are an adult come to our online Life and the Christian Faith course starting in August. Contact us at webmaster@broughtybaptist.org for details.

All Age Song

Prayers for others

Thank you Lord once more for the privilege of praying for other people:

As most people will be taking ‘staycations’ this year, we pray that it will still be a time of refreshing and relaxation for people despite the circumstances. May it be a time when we can slow down and allow God to speak into our hearts and lives with greater clarity. We give thanks that this is a time for individuals, churches and our society at large to re-evaluate and work out what is most important. Please pray that as a result, lives would be lived at a more sustainable and simplified pace; churches would be able to listen for the wind of the Spirit and that society would learn how to truly care for others.  

We pray for those experiencing financial difficulty at this time. We pray for CAP and other debt agencies working with people and for the multitude of food banks that are sadly having to support more people than ever.

We give thanks for the scientists across the world who are working hard on finding treatments and a vaccine for Covid19. Please pray that scientists and politicians across the world would unite together in collaboration for the common cause of fighting this pandemic.

We give thanks for the hard work of teachers across Scotland and the work they do in educating children and young people. We pray that the summer break will bring much needed rest and refreshment to school teachers and support staff. Pray for the planning that teachers and local authorities will already be doing to prepare for the autumn

In our Baptist Union of Scotland we remember to pray for:

Ali Laing (Next Generation Development Coordinator) – Give thanks for the Invest trainees who have just finished their training year and everyone who took part in the training hub, which took place online for the last couple of gathering. Please pray for us as we consider what Invest 2020 will look like this year due to Covid.

Glenrothes BC – Please pray for this church fellowship as they seek to make known the love of Jesus in the town of Glenrothes in these challenging times.

Gourock BC – We give our praise and thanks to God for his continued provision, and the generous giving of his people, as we continue our work to refurbish our church building. Please pray that our reach into the community might extend and if this needs to be in new ways, that the Lord will help us embrace them and equip us appropriately.

Granton BC, Edinburgh – Like all churches we have had to adapt re the current situation. We give thanks for online gatherings and for new and re-connections with people. Pray that as we return after Covid we will do so encouraged in the Lord.

We pray too for the other Christian churches in our local communities and across the land. As we catch a glimpse of the next stage of the future with both greater opportunities and additional challenges for our work and witness, grant us wisdom Lord to sense what You are saying to us as we go forward by faith in Your name. Help us not be fearful about the future but quietly confidence that You have plans for our future, plans to give us a hope and a future.

We now pray for other people with particular needs that are connected to our own congregation: We ask that you would comfort those who have been bereaved in recent weeks. Help them to come to terms with their loss and to know Your presence with them each step of the way. We remember those with ongoing health problems, particularly those that have been waiting a long time for hospital treatment or operations. We remember Nina Goldthorp as she goes into hospital this week and pray that her operation goes well. We pray too for Moraig Piggot for healing after a recent back injury.     

In addition, we bring our own needs to You at this time …,  in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, Amen….

Bible Reading

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the craftsmen had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’ Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.

10 This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.’

Jeremiah 29 1-14

 The Message

Pre-recorded message

Jeremiah 29:1-14 A vision for the future

Introduction

Their world had changed for ever. Life as they had known it back in Judah was a memory of the past, but not a future possibility. Some false prophets in the Jewish community had claimed a word from God to the effect that in only a short time our nightmare will all be over and we can go back to our homes and communities and pick up the pieces where we left off. It would be a nice dream to do that, but it wasn’t going to happen. At worst it was giving false hopes to deeply traumatised people.

Today we might call that emotional abuse.  Jeremiah the faithful prophet of God knew that someone would have to pick up the pieces when the hopes of these exiles in Babylon were dashed again. The messages contained in Jeremiah 29 were a resetting of the mindset of God’s people going forward. God was not only the God of their past but also of their future. This is so important to us in these uncertain times.

If we look over the two thousand years of church history the biggest periods of church growth came in the generations after very difficult times. God has not changed so there is no reason not to be optimistic about the future in the medium to longer term.

We have lived through one of the most difficult periods of time in the last hundred years in the United Kingdom during the last four months. We will live in the near future in equally uncertain times as we enter a less restricted chapter of the lock down leading hopefully to the new normality for the foreseeable future.

This passage in Jeremiah 29 is particularly helpful at this time in helping us reset our hopes and expectations for the coming months. We have to accept that we do not know what will happen in the future. Some things we do in church will be similar to what we did before. Other things will be very different. On a positive note last Sunday having Wit and Helen join us from Northern Thailand at the zoom service was remarkable; it breathes new life into our commitment to support overseas mission and enables link missionaries or indigenous workers to join us for Sunday worship at minimal cost and saves many hours of travel. The world has become a much smaller place. What does this passage teach us?    

1. Letting go of the Past (Jeremiah 29:1-4)

1This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2(This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) 3He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said: 4This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:

Memory is a good thing and we value this gift from God. However, how we use it has a powerful impact shaping how we live in the present and plan for the future. This community of people were bound by the past and understandably so. They were now exiles in a foreign land and living in the midst of a people whose languages, cultures and religions were all foreign to them. It was an overwhelming experience and they wanted to retreat into the safety of the past. They wanted to believe that the clock could be put back and life to be just the same as it had been a number of years earlier in the ‘good-old days’.

This is a temptation in every generation as our memories select the highlights of our earlier years, often overlooking or playing down the difficulties, and as we get old it can become easier and easier to focus our entire energies on that past life. For some of us it may be happy memories that we need to accept are of a former era and cannot be recreated in the present, but that God has other blessings and joys in store for us in the future that can only be ours if we are willing to go forward by accepting that the future will not be the same as our past, but acknowledging that God’s hand is upon us and we can trust Him to take care of our future.

Jeremiah reminds us in this key verse: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer.29:11). We also release the happy memories to their rightful place in the past and focus our energies on the present and the future that God has in store for us. Others of us here could be struggling to let go of bad memories of the past.

Inappropriate words by others or by ourselves that have seared themselves on our minds or appalling actions that keep reoccurring in our thoughts and prevent us from enjoying the blessings and encouragements God has in store for us in the coming years. Is there something that you need to name before the Lord and allow His Spirit to deliver you from being bound by it? The devil is into a ministry of condemnation and he rejoices in our times of despair and even depressions, but God wants to lift us up from the devil’s condemnation to experience His forgiveness for past failings and His affirmation of love for us as His children.

Paul said this to the Christians in Rome: 1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2). We are set free to embrace the future God has for us :For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jer.29:11).

Here the key verse is Jeremiah 29:4: This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. Why have the things we individually and collectively have experienced during this Covid-19 virus pandemic taken place? It is because in the sovereign and mysterious purposes of God He has allowed them to take place, in order that we may learn to draw closer to Him. This does not mean that the events of recent months have been a good thing.

We all wish there had been no pandemic. However, we must determine in such situations not to allow our present and future lives to be determined by the past. I was deeply moved some years ago seeing the response of the Amish People in America at a time of an awful tragedy in their midst. The question put by the Amish community leader on Monday 2 October 2006, the day five of their young girls were murdered in their schoolhouse, to a watching world was this: What is God trying to teach us through these circumstances? [see CBSNews.com, 4 October 2006 for more similar Amish responses]

What has taken place cannot be reversed, but while it is appropriate always to acknowledge the past or take account of it, it must serve as an opportunity to move forward with God into the future. When we place our future in God’s hands there is a security that can be found in no other person or way of life.

2. Embracing the Present (Jeremiah 29:5-9)

(a)Practical Advice (Jeremiah 29:5-7)“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

What was Jeremiah saying in simple words to these people? He tells them very firmly that they are in the place where God wants them to be. They ought not to be wishing they were living somewhere else. Instead at that moment in time God had called them to be His witnesses in Babylon and God would bless them as they put Him first in that place.

In the same way God has called the majority of us participating in this service to live in this area and worship here in Broughty Ferry Baptist Church; but the same principle applies wherever in God’s world we live, work and worship. He wants us to do our very best in each area of our lives for Him. Jeremiah is summarising here the full range of activities in the home and at work and in the wider community.

Biblical Christianity is not simply concerned with explicitly church-based activities or our personal devotional lives, although they are of crucial importance for our spiritual growth, but it is also concerned about us bringing glory to God through the use of the gifts and abilities He has given us in the workplace, and in the wider community as well as in our homes and church community.

We are called by the Lord to play a full role as citizens in our land which for some of us may involve us in our local food bank or a school Parent Council or other civic bodies, and a smaller number still in local, regional and national political life. Notice Jeremiah’s plea regarding the city in which they lived: Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.  This is very similar practical advice to the more general challenging words of Jesus in Matthew 5:16-18:

13“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.14“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

We must never think that anything we do is unimportant to God. He created us to be a holistic people with time for work, but also time for rest; time for families and church family; space to enjoy music and the arts and the beauty of His creation. The most challenging task for most of us is how to handle the twenty-four hours we possess each day adequately.

We need to be able to delight in the ordinary things of life the growth and development of a baby or a child; the accomplishments of a young person growing up; the intricacy and beauty of nature and appreciate the wonders of creation. In our nation’s culture the most important things are rarely celebrated. Faithful dedicated love between a man and a woman in marriage over many decades, for example, is ridiculed and regarded with little respect by too many in the media and most especially by our current Westminster government.

Family members or friends who care selflessly for years for a dependent loved one are also rarely honoured for their work; yet what they do in the sight of God is as valuable as accomplishments in the workplace or on the sports field.    

(b) A Powerful Warning (Jeremiah 29:8-9) 8Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

We have our challenges both as individuals and as churches in discerning how God wants us to live as His witnesses at the time and in the context of our contemporary culture. In the new situation God through Jeremiah told the exiles build and plant.

Put down roots –Increase in number there; do not decrease. God is building His church. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18: I will build My Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (KJV)Remember in the call of Jeremiah, the prophet was told to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow (Jer.1:10). The people were battening down the hatches in adverse circumstances and telling the unpopular messenger, the young Jeremiah, that there was no need to change things as they will be okay at some unidentified point in the future. In such a context Jeremiah preached the famous temple sermon, from outside the Jerusalem Temple because he was not allowed to give it inside the premises. God’s blessing is not automatic; if His people will not heed His voice then He will remove their witness.

In Jeremiah 7:12-15 the prophet reminded the people of the derelict state of the first collective place of witness for the nation in the time of King Saul: ‘Go now to the place in Shiloh where I first made a dwelling for my Name, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of my people Israel. 13While you were doing all these things, declares the Lord, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer. 14Therefore, what I did to Shiloh I will now do to the house that bears my Name, the temple you trust in, the place I gave to you and your fathers. 15I will thrust you from my presence, just as I did all your brothers, the people of Ephraim.’

We need to be honest that not all churches will grow and prosper in the years following the ending of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. There are some that will close for a variety of reasons. Sadly some will close because they have lost confidence in proclaiming the unchanging truth of God’s Word from their pulpit and the need to share our faith with other people. Families grow in number by the birth of new members, physically in our nuclear families, and spiritually in our church families.

A church that has Jesus Christ as its head in practice not just in its theology, will be happy to declare, in the famous words of the former Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple, that the Church of Jesus Christ is the only organisation in existence in the world that exists primarily for the benefit of non-members! We need to dedicate ourselves afresh in the coming days to live out our mission statement: ‘Building a Christ centred church: looking to Christ, growing in Christ and sharing Christ’. God sometimes has to shake the foundations before His people will listen to what He is saying, then and now. Jeremiah will go on to indicate that a God-centred people are a praying people. This will also need to be hallmark of this church in the coming years too.  

3. Working for the Future (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

Jeremiah’s call was not only negative but also (Jer.1:10) to build and to plant. The up-building, the prosperity, could only come when God’s people had seen their situation as God had done. Here was:

(a) God’s Plan (Jeremiah 29:10-11) This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfil my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What can God accomplish through you and me in the coming years if we have the faith to entrust our lives into His hands? We live in an unfair world. Some people seem to pass through life without any apparent major crises at all, except bereavements. Others appear to face one tough time after another. The majority of us are somewhere in between. Yet through it all we need to remember God’s plans for us as His people, individually, in our families and in church families. Our responsibility is to claim the promises of God.

(b) Our Responsibility (Jeremiah 29:12-13) Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart. In Daniel 9 the aged saint remembers that the prophesied time is nearly up. How does he take it to God? (Dan 9:3) So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. How does he pray? Identification of himself with the nation in sin and need for repentance. 

4I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, 5we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.  7“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.

8O Lord, we and our kings, our princes and our fathers are covered with shame because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you. “Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster.

From where does Daniel gain confidence that God will keep His promises? It is from the evidence of past deliverance from Egypt; Daniel 9:15: “Now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand. On what basis does he ask for help now?  (Daniel 9:18)We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name. Prayerful Bible-based pleas move the heart of our loving Father in heaven then and now in 2020.

(c) God’s Promise (Jer.29:14) I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” God promises that His Word that goes out of His mouth. ..will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what I desire (Isaiah55:11) If we turn to seek His face as we should then the days of blessing in conversions of people who don’t know Jesus; restorations of backsliders who have gone away from Jesus and powerful ministries of Spirit-filled believers will be much in evidence in our midst. God does not promise a timescale. He says seek My face and claim My promises, for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Our song before we come to communion is:

The Lord’s Supper

Jesus invites all Christian who have committed their lives to follow Him to participate in this act of worship. The apostle Paul wrote these words of Scripture in I Corinthians 11:23-26 to guide our observance of Communion.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. 

Prayer: Choose your own words of prayer to give thanks for the bread and wine that represent the costly gift of His body and blood for us.

Take the bread: Jesus said: ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.

Take the wine: Jesus said: This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’

Our closing song is:

Closing Prayer:

Thank you Lord that You are the God of hope who place our feet solid foundations.  We will face difficulties, disappointments and have our tears, but we will also have our joys, our encouragements and future blessings because You are Lord over all. As we enter the summer period, normally a quieter period of rest and reflection before a new session begins, we ask that You would give us a sense of Your peace and Your presence with us as we continue in these uncertain times. We go, though, with confidence because You have plans to give us a hope and a future, for Jeseus’ sake, Amen 

Benediction:  The Grace

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God
and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore, Amen

Remember tonight the national online prayer service at 7pm.