SUNDAY – 27 SEPTEMBER 2020
COME, LET US RETURN TO THE LORD. HE HAS TORN US TO PIECES BUT HE WILL HEAL US; HE HAS INJURED US BUT HE WILL BIND UP OUR WOUNDS. AFTER TWO DAYS HE WILL REVIVE US; ON THE THIRD DAY HE WILL RESTORE US, THAT WE MAY LIVE IN HIS PRESENCE. (Hosea 6: 1-2)
I REJOICED WITH THOSE WHO SAID TO ME, “LET US GO TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.” OUR FEET ARE STANDING IN YOUR GATES… O GOD. (Psalm 122: 1-2)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY WEB – WORSHIP!
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – JEREMIAH 29: 11 – 12.
“…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. THEN YOU WILL CALL UPON ME AND COME AND PRAY TO ME, AND I WILL LISTEN TO YOU.”
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – 2 CORINTHIANS 1: 2 – 5.
GRACE AND PEACE TO YOU FROM GOD OUR FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. PRAISE BE TO THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, THE FATHER OF COMPASSION AND THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT, WHO COMFORTS US IN ALL OUR TROUBLES, SO THAT WE CAN COMFORT THOSE IN ANY TROUBLE WITH THE COMFORT WE OURSELVES HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD. FOR JUST AS THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST FLOW OVER INTO OUR LIVES, SO ALSO THROUGH CHRIST OUR COMFORT OVERFLOWS.
Jeremiah prophesied in a time of national disaster. On several specific occasions, the Prophet predicted that the Babylonian army WOULD conquer the city of Jerusalem, destroy the Temple, and deport its people into exile for 70 years. Meanwhile false prophets kept on assuring everyone that God would never let something like that happen to His Nation.
Then .. it happened .. and Jeremiah brought a new message to the exiles in Babylon, God’s plans to prosper and not to harm (you), plans to give (you) hope and future (verse 11). Salvation comes only on the far side of disaster: – that is the promise of God, given to Jeremiah. Come and pray to me, and I will listen to you, – said the Lord.
This experience of the ancient Israel and Judah anticipates the suffering of the Messiah, coming to bear judgement in place of Israel and all nations, bringing Salvation to all who believe, as a fulfilment of the eternal and unchangeable love of God.
Deliverance – past, present, and future – is assured to those who trust in God! One of the greatest Christian messages across the centuries has always been: – OUR GOD IS ABLE TO DELIVER US. What an effective call for endurance! After all: SALVATION is the greatest COMFORT ever.
To be saved is TO REST ASSURED of Divine support. The whole world has been struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic this year. It is an international disaster. Our lives have been turned upside down by threat of sickness, bereavement or loss of income and jobs, causing great hardship, distress and fear.
We live in a world where hope seems to be in short supply, being attacked by the dreaded “D’s,”: despair, discouragement, depression, and death. But this doesn’t need to be the end of the story.
The WORD tells us, that God has great plans of COMFORT for our lives, to give everyone a FUTURE and a HOPE, through HIS WORD that became flesh, and revealing the true GLORY of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. In times like these, Christians always take refuge in the comfort of God.
In the beginning of 2 Corinthians Chapter 1 the word COMFORT appears ten times in five verses. Comfort in the New Testament always means far more than soothing sympathy, for its root: – FORTIS (Latin) – means BRAVE. Christian comfort is the comfort which brings courage and enables us to cope with all that life can do for us.
Paul was sure that God never sends anyone a vision without power to work it out and never sends a task without the strength to do it (William Barclay). This is why Paul begins by speaking Grace and Peace. Grace, as God’s undeserved generosity, and peace, a reconciled relationship, are blessing and reconciliation that come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In his immense suffering of losing wealth, family and health, Job said: – The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1: 21). For many, in the midst of hardship, their tendency is to blame God rather than to praise God.
But Job and the Apostle join their voices to praise God in their suffering believing that the Lord is worthy of praise even in agonizing disasters, because they have already experienced both His compassion and His comfort.
THE FATHER OF COMPASSION AND THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT is He, whom we should approach with our praise. Praise is such an important factor in achieving victory over suffering, because it is always rooted in hopeful believing.
But such hope can never be achieved through what the world calls hope. In this world “hope” is more like wishful thinking. We say, “I hope so,” or “I hope it is true”. Further, the world defines hope rather pessimistically, as nothing more than an abstract concept without substance to support it.
But hope as defined in the Bible isn’t wishful thinking; rather a confident expectation and certainty of God’s compassion and comfort. One important element of regaining hope is our need to stop devaluing ourselves and understand that we all have great value if God so much loved us that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16). TAKE ENCOURAGEMENT BECAUSE GOD IS ALWAYS NEAR YOU.
When life is tiring, health is failing, when loved ones are hurt and the threat of infection and death are imminent, it is easy to become discouraged. DISCOURAGEMENT is a thief. It steals our vitality, zeal, joy, peace and contentment.
If discouragement dwells long with us, its friends will soon join. Their names are: tiredness, hopelessness, despair, self-pity, depression, doubt, and bitterness. Sometimes, discouragement can be so strong that the person becomes ready even to give up life. Its symptoms are: dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present and distrust of the future. If we have nothing to rely on, or we forget our blessings and look to our circumstances only, then that is when discouragement begins to take hold.
Instead, what we need is ENCOURAGEMENT. We need hope and peace and the knowledge that God knows our troubles, has great concern and compassion for us and will never leave us unloved or uncared for. Keeping our spiritual eyes on Jesus is the best way to be encouraged.
In Him we can always have comfort, peace and encouragement. What we need is to find Him in His Word (Bible), approach Him with our prayers, and rest in Him by faith.
THE ENCOURAGED SHOULD ENCOURAGE OTHERS.
True Christianity is never selfish: – we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (verse 4).
Afflictions – trouble – are a way of making us better, and if this testing of our faith develops perseverance, we become God’s tools to comfort others. God does not comfort us to be comfortable, but to make us comforters. I do believe that in these times the whole world is under God’s testing, and the defeat of Covid-19 depends on our common endeavour to strongly rely on each other and God.
Let us hope that after half a year of church closure, some of us will be finally able to worship together next Sunday morning, strictly observing the required “new-normal” rules of distancing and safety. For those unable to come I promise that the same sermon will be still available on this website and in printed form as before, and despite the distancing we will praise the Lord together as His People.
LET US PRAY: – LORD OUR GOD, we praise You as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Father of all our comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from You.
We thank You for revealing THE PLANS You have for us – plans to prosper and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. So we come and call upon You and pray to You in these troubled times of pandemic and seek with all our hearts to find You as our refuge and our strength.
Thank You that we can cast our cares on to You and find rest for our souls. Gracious God, whether we are asleep or awake, thank You that You are always there, a constant companion, daily strength, and faithful friend. We praise You that the peace You make possible is unlike anything the world can give, bringing inner stillness, quiet assurance, and rest for our troubled hearts.
However weary we may grow, You never tire, continuing to watch over us so that we can rest easy, our minds at peace, and secure in the knowledge of Your everlasting love through Jesus. Help us to search patiently for greater understanding, deeper commitment and fuller love for You and others, assured that if we truly seek such things, we will find.
We feel Your presence and in turn, help us to bear the burdens of others, or at least to lighten their load. When we call to You but find no answer, when we seek for Your presence, but search in vain, teach us to look more closely until we find.
When we look at the world, Lord – its tensions and suffering, needs and heartbreaks – it is hard not to wonder what You are doing and why You take so long to put things right. Help us to understand that there are no quick fixes or short-term solutions, but only Your PLANS are destined finally to triumph, not in our time but in Yours. Hear us in our individual prayers for our world…humanity…Christian Church…our own fellowship…loved ones… and ourselves…, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
SUGGESTED HYMN: – O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!
Under the shadow of Thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure; Sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone; Short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, Be Thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.
MAY THE LORD OUR GOD BE WITH US AS HE WAS WITH OUR FATHERS; MAY HE NEVER LEAVE US NOR FORSAKE US. MAY HE TURN OUR HEARTS TO HIM, TO WALK IN ALL HIS WAYS AND TO KEEP THE COMMANDS, DECREES AND REGULATIONS HE GAVE OUR FATHERS. AND MAY THESE WORDS OF MINE, WHICH I HAVE PRAYED BEFORE THE LORD, BE NEAR TO THE LORD OUR GOD DAY AND NIGHT, THAT HE MAY UPHOLD THE CAUSE OF HIS SERVANT AND THE CAUSE OF HIS PEOPLE…ACCORDING TO EACH DAY’S NEED (1 Kings 8: 57-59), through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
Sandor, your Minister.