God's Love - Sunday Worship 10th January
This Sunday our Pastor Julie will be leading Enderby URC Church in worship via Zoom and Nigel Malka will be preaching at Blaby Congregational Church at 10am. For those unable to join us the service has been prepared and published in collaboration between him and Julie.
Call to worship
Hymn 560 Praise my soul the King of Heaven
Lord of our journeys, help us this day to have eyes to see your leading, ears to hear your guidance, and a heart of courage, that we may journey faithfully and find your way – even when the path may seem difficult and dark. Amen.
Father God, full of wisdom and power, whose mighty arm stretches over all the earth: we bow down in humble adoration.
Holy Saviour, full of grace, lighting up our world: we bow down in humble adoration.
Spirit of the living God, full of the boundless riches available to us in Christ: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three in one: we bow down in humble adoration, open to your direction. Amen.
Glorious Lord, we your sons and daughters come together into your kingly presence. We lift our eyes to you, seeking your guiding light and offering up our gifts of worship and praise. Amen.
The Lords Prayer
Hymn 528 O worship the King.
Bible Reading - 1 John 4:7-end
Word to Church family
God is Love? Easy to say and easy to believe when things are going well.
When surrounded by a loving family, friends and when within a fellowship
People sharing their experiences, supporting one another
Love is one of the attributes that prove we are designed by God
Unfortunately many today don’t acknowledge God’s ways, his creation or his Love
Living in a comfortable society makes people think they don’t need God
Unable to understand why a loving creator allows so much illness & evil to occur
That’s our theme for today, how we can respond to that view?
What’s is God’s love and what isn’t it?
God’s love includes many things; caring for his creation, giving freedom
Setting down standards, providing judgement and justice,
Living in the real world we know that life does has it’s up’s and downs
For some the up’s are very good, and for some the bad is very bad indeed.
When it’s bad, life seems unfair and seems at odds with a ‘good God’ who created life
We ask in the Lord’s prayer, not to be led into temptation,
Yet life is a series of temptations and at times we all fail
But like a loving parent God wants to put us on the right track
Which is why we are given the Word of God, his direction his standards.
And with standards comes correction, with the object of showing the right way
Hymn 181 God forgave my sin in Jesus’ name
Bible Reading Luke 21:5-28
I start every service with this most important message, ‘God Loves you’,
But I was taken aback when a very good Christian friend challenged me.
Saying, “Can you substantiate that God does love us, and what is that love?
Considering all the pain and suffering that occurs in his creation?”
The trouble is there is a basic misconception of who God is and what love is,
Those of us who have been or who had loving parents have an insight into it.
Love is not just about just caring for someone, nor is it about control.
Accepting mistakes happen and that things that might hurt or create unhappiness.
Love sets standards, guidance, freedom and forgiveness or punishment as appropriate
At times we all have to deal with illness, pain, suffering, political upheaval, the loss of something or someone,
a, war, famine, disasters, and a pandemic.
Of course we would like to live in a world where none of these things happen.
Fortunately by making Jesus Lord of our lives, one day we will.
And to get there we are judged on how we use the greatest of God’s gifts - Freewill
Hate, greed, violence, war, these can be put down to the use of man’s free will
We use our freewill, for better or worse we have the ability to decide what we do
Without freewill we are as every other animal – dominated by instinct alone
So if we make a mess of things, well, we shouldn’t blame God.
If I drive recklessly and have an accident then the responsibility is mine not God’s.
We cannot blame God who gave us the gift of freedom when it is us who abuse it.
A gun, in itself is not bad, it’s the person who in their actions abuses it, that is,
When God’s ways are rejected abuses happen
Our greatest command is to Love God, then ourselves and then our neighbours.
We need his forgiveness because we don’t live up to his requirements
His design of us, his hope for us all because of our abuse of his gift of freewill
God created a world of order, based on his ways, his pattern of living.
The world and everything in it has been designed to fit into its own place.
When things don’t fit into the place God set for it, is it surprising thing go wrong.
The saying once bitten twice shy three times a fool is one that may seem rather harsh
Particularly when applied to disasters, but for the moment let’s be dispassionate.
We know that within our created and complex universe
The earth is a living entity that’s required to do certain things to survive.
These include, making internal movement, letting off gas, spinning and irrigation.
Put another way, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes and storms.
If people choose to live where these occur and not provide themselves with protection
Then they have to expect that disasters will adversely affect them.
If we build on flood plains and don’t build defences then expect flooding
We know where the fault lines are, so when cities are built on them
Then earthquakes destroy places like San Francisco & Tokyo don’t blame God.
Jesus taught us not to worry for it serves no useful purpose.
We know that worry causes stress and stress causes illnesses
We also know we need good diet and exercise, not cigarettes, drugs, alcohol etc
If we feed our minds and bodies on those thing that Gods tells us not to
Then we have to expect our bodies to react in a way that is not good for us
Many of the illnesses in our society today are self-inflicted.
Those who abuse God’s ways and the gifts they’ve been given
These are the causes of our suffering, not God.
Our world has been created with many disaster possibilities?
Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes,
famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
Is this Covid pandemic caused by God, man or is it just a quirk of nature?
Our existence and freedom is far more important than our pain
For our destiny is more often than not, something we can control ourselves.
Freewill is so precious, that God allows us to make mistakes
When societies become evil is it any surprise they are eventually removed
But he keeps giving people chances and he keeps trying to correct us
Teach us the best way to live, yet our western world is turning their backs on him.
Human disasters! Why were there mudslides in Central America
Killing hundreds and making thousands homeless?
Because people decided to remove all the trees on the mountain side,
Why do so many starve and die, living in areas where land cannot sustain them
Forced there by greed with no resources or education all due to abuse of leadership
The loss of wild life and the change in Climate, due to us not caring for the world
Too often mankind does the opposite of what God has designed for it.
God gives freedom but Satan brings slavery, craving to things that will not last
Power, greed, immorality, gluttony, class systems, possessions, sloth, indiscipline
The list goes on and on, the main philosophy today is ‘I’ll do what I want’
Which put another way is, love myself and forget about neighbours and God.
This world is God’s creation and we have a duty to obey its creator
To fulfil our purpose in living, which is to love him and care for his creation
We need to have answers when people challenge us when we do say God loves us.
Read what Jesus taught for there we find the answers
And in doing so we will have greater confidence in witnessing for our Lord
And why doesn’t God treat the good people better than the bad,
Well Jesus explains why in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5:43-end.
Because he loves everyone equally and wants us all to follow him
We have been given freewill and living is about what choices we make
How we handle difficulties, problems, issues these are our tests in living.
And there are occurrences that we may not like, which God freely admit to causing.
However these can have the purpose of judgement on those who turn from God
God hates evil, leaving such societies alone for years, but eventually he acts
He gives people every chance to do something themselves about the situation
First prophets are sent then when these are ignored punishments is given
Israel is an example of punishment used properly being a tool of love
For it gives the acceptable boundaries of behaviour
When Evil takes hold in a society and God cannot be found within it
As in the world of Noah, Sodom, Egypt, Israel, Jerusalem, after Jesus was murdered
God will act with terrible consequences for those who have no hope of redemption.
We continually break God’s command, creating our separation from him.
So God needed to bring forgiveness, his truth and his ways before each one of us.
To give everyone the choice in deciding to follow his ways or not.
We have been given an open book into God’s mind in the form of his Son, Jesus.
Through him we gain forgiveness, faith, eternal life and The Holy Spirit as our guide
By being given the responsibility of freewill without limits, we should not abuse it.
And the answer to the question, ‘Why does God allow suffering’
Our free will is more important to him than the suffering we cause to ourselves
God made us Free, we have the Freedom to accept or reject his ways
If God were to stop evil we lose our free will, we become as animals
Ruled by pure instinct, unable to choose to love God and share his kingdom
Freewill is that element of love that allows us to come to know God
God’s gift of freewill means we have the ability to choose
By accepting Jesus as Lord we take on board his teaching, which are God’s ways
Everything we do and say needs to be directed at putting a smile onto Gods face
To please him by making his Word our purpose in living
We need to use our freewill wisely, trust In God, In Jesus’ teaching
We have a true friend in Jesus who supports us and has given us God’s ways.
Let us get to know him, study his life and his ways
Accept his gifts of faith, forgiveness and God’s Holy Spirit
So we can witness God’s love to everyone we meet.
Hymn 746 What a Friend we have in Jesus
Prayers of Intercession
Eternal God, it feels as if the whole world has changed and yet in you there is stability and the opportunity of a new beginning. So, we pray now for those whose lives are in turmoil, those whose lives have been turned upside down, those who feel lost. May they feel supported, find fresh hope, and use our prayers in Jesus’ name to strengthen them.
We pray for those for whom the lockdown has come as a relief,
for those who now feel safer,
but we pray too for those who now feel desperate,
alone and worried about their jobs, their finances, their mental health. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: Lord, use our prayers in Jesus’ name to strengthen them.
We pray for children and young adults as their schooling is disrupted, we pray for those who enjoy learning from home, but pray too for those who will lose confidence, who miss their friends, who feel vulnerable. We remember their parents and the parents of children with special needs, struggling to cope on their own. We pray for teachers, administrative staff, and all those who feel overwhelmed. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: Lord, use our prayers in Jesus’ name to strengthen them.
We pray for the people of a divided America at this time of political and racial tension and transition, for outgoing President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden. We pray too for countries around the world struggling with ethnic violence and militancy. We remember the people of West Africa and in particular the people of Niger, villagers who live in fear, those who have been wounded in recent attacks and those who have been bereaved. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: Lord, use our prayers in Jesus’ name to strengthen them.
We pray for those who have been injured or lost their homes and loved ones in the severe weather, remembering particularly the people of Norway affected by landslides, and those in Australia battered by cyclones. We pray for those who work in the emergency services, those whose work is dangerous and traumatic. We pray for those in refugees camps with little protection from the weather, those who sleep rough, those who can't afford to heat their homes. May they feel supported, find fresh hope: Lord, use our prayers in Jesus’ name to strengthen them.
We pray for one another, our families,
our communities, our church fellowships.
May we support those who are unwell or grieving.
May we bring fresh hope to those who feel forgotten and are vulnerable, and may we – both practically and prayerfully – share our faith in your Son Jesus in whose name we entrust these prayers to you. Amen.
Hymn 449 Love Divine