LORD, YOU HAVE BEEN OUR DWELLING – PLACE THROUGHOUT ALL GENERATIONS. BEFORE THE MOUNTAINS WERE BORN OR YOU BROUGHT FORTH THE EARTH AND THE WORLD, FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING YOU ARE GOD. (Psalm 90: 1-2)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP!
OPENING HYMN (CH-32) – IMMORTAL, INVISIBLE, GOD only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might; Thy justice like mountains high soaring above Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all, life Thou givest – to both great and small; in all life Thou livest, the true life of all; we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, and wither and perish – but naught changeth Thee.
Great Father of Glory, pure Father of Light, Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight; all laud we would render: O help us to see ‘tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee.
LET US PRAY:
ALMIGHTY LORD GOD, we come again to You with thanksgiving for all the blessings received and for all the signs of Your unfailing grace. We humbly confess our faults and sins before You, knowing that You are always merciful and ready to forgive, and to accept us as we are. We thank You again for Jesus Christ, Your Son, who came to be our Saviour and fulfil Your eternal plan to redeem us. Once again, Lord God, we want to affirm our dependency on Your power, and the great need we have to stay connected with You, as a condition for the blessings You have in store for us. Thank You for Your Word that teaches us to abide in You as You abide in us by Your Holy Spirit. It is in that Spirit that we come to You this morning. Enable us to be not only hearers of Your message but also to be true witnesses of the Gospel, wherever we find ourselves. Revive us by the power of Your Spirit, bless our worship and bless our fellowship with You and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – NUMBERS 13: 27-28, 32-33.
THEY GAVE MOSES THIS ACCOUNT: “WE WENT INTO THE LAND TO WHICH YOU SENT US, AND IT DOES FLOW WITH MILK AND HONEY! BUT THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE ARE POWERFUL, AND THE CITIES ARE FORTIFIED AND VERY LARGE. WE EVEN SAW DESCENDANTS OF ANAK THERE… WE SAW THE NEPHILIM THERE (THE DESCENDANTS OF ANAK COME FROM THE NEPHILIM). WE SEEMED LIKE GRASSHOPPERS IN OUR OWN EYES, AND WE LOOKED THE SAME TO THEM.”
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – ROMANS 8: 31-32.
WHAT, THEN, SHALL WE SAY IN RESPONSE TO THIS? IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? HE WHO DID NOT SPARE HIS OWN SON, BUT GAVE HIM UP FOR US ALL – HOW WILL HE NOT ALSO, ALONG WITH HIM, GRACIOUSLY GIVE US ALL THINGS?
In 1516, Johann Tetzel, a Dominican friar, was sent to Germany by the Roman Catholic Church to sell indulgences (=remission of God’s punishment for sin, by the signature of the Pope on a piece of paper), – to raise money in order to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar himself, and Theological Professor at the University of Wittenberg, nailed to the door of All Saints’ Church-Wittenberg, a document entitled “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” known later as The Ninety-five Theses. In this document he openly attacked Pope Leo X by saying that only God can forgive sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Being ordered to appear before Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms to deny his statements he said, – Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. I fight the battle of the Lord, and I am strong, therefore. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? May God help me. Amen. The Edict of Worms declared Luther an “outlaw”, and on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope excommunicated him in the same year. Translating the Bible, and publishing catechisms of biblical faith, Martin Luther started the spread and growth of a new Church based on the Bible and Salvation through Jesus Christ. Continued by others like Calvin, Zwingli, John Knox, the World Communion of Reformed Churches has AT present 233 member denominations in 110 countries, with over 100 million Protestant Presbyterian Reformed Christians, our Church of Scotland included. As a symbol of respect towards Martin Luther’s contribution, the 31st of October is commemorated annually as REFORMATION DAY.
- – IF GOD IS FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? (Romans 8: 31b) – is one of the most encouraging and affirming passages in all of God’s Word. Romans, Chapter 8, begins and ends with declarations of the Christian’s security before God. There is no condemnation for those in Christ, and nothing will ever be able to separate us from His love. Having believed in the Gospel, we now live in the Spirit of God. That allows us to call God “Abba Father”. We suffer with Christ, and we suffer along with all creation while we wait for God to reveal us as His sons. With the help of the Spirit, we are confident that God is for us and loves us in Christ. Paul says that God is for all of us who are in Christ; for those who have been saved by their faith. No charge or accusation made against us can stand, because God has provided for our justification, and Christ is interceding for us. Paul makes a long list of all the things in the universe that cannot separate us from God’s love for us in Christ. Hard things will happen, but none of them will cause the Father to stop loving us, nor are any of them signs that He has abandoned us. Our salvation is entirely secure on account of His great love. In light of the fact that God foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and will glorify us (Romans 8: 30), Paul comes to an undeniable conclusion: – God must be for us. God must be for all of us who are in Christ by faith. Paul’s question is who of any consequence could ever be against us? What could anyone against us ever hope to accomplish by evil, if God Himself is for us? What chance is there that someone or something can thwart God’s intent to save those justified by faith in His Son? The question is whether we believe that God is truly for us. The reason that all things work together for the good of God’s people is that our salvation from first to last is from the Lord. He originated it before the foundation of the world by choosing to set His love on us and by predestining us to be conformed to His image. Being de-formed by falling into sin, God offered us the chance to be RE-FORMED on the image of Christ. As God’s purpose to glorify His Son is sure, then our salvation is secure. This is the central teaching of God through Paul.
- – OVERCOMING GRASSHOPPER MENTALITY. The Book of Exodus tells us how God delivered His People from the captivity in Egypt and promised them a land of their own. Led by God, they had to wander in the desert for 40 years, anticipating entering into a Promised Land, which the Bible describes as flowing with milk and honey. They had seen God bring plague and hardship on the nation of Egypt to let them go. They walked on dry ground through the Red Sea, and were fed with manna and quail from heaven, given water from a rock, and above all, God’s Law on stone tablets, to obey. Finally, they got to the southern edge of the Promised Land, getting a glimpse of it and of its inhabitants. Moses sent out spies into the land to check it out, and then, as they returned, Caleb, their leader, gave a report and showed the People the fruit of the land. He said, – We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it (Numbers 13: 30). But the men who had gone up with him said, – We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them (v. 33). They lacked the faith to enter the Promised Land. They looked at the size of the obstacles instead of focusing on their God, who promised to take them there. This kind of attitude can be defined as Grasshopper Mentality.
Grasshoppers and locusts are of the same insect order. They rub their legs together to make chirping sounds and having ears on their bellies they feel the vibrations of other grasshoppers, and a result, they respond to the chirps of other grasshoppers and do what they do. They have the ability to jump away from any kind of predator. Grasshoppers can eat half their body weight in a day, causing huge damage to vegetation and crops. While they may be able to do all that, they are not known for their ability to think. The group of the spies heard their leader’s report, and they began to make remarks that did not have much faithful thought, and that chirping spread quickly throughout the people. Have you ever noticed that before? One or two people start some type of negativity, and before long, the whole group becomes negative. As a well know proverb says: – One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. According to our text this can be called Grasshopper Mentality. Grasshopper Mentality is demonstrated through our text in three ways. First, there are the NAYSAYERS. People who do not believe anything good can come out of a situation. They will always say NO and have a pessimistic or negative view of the whole outcome. A naysayer sees only a part of the picture instead of the whole thing. Here they looked at the powerful people instead of God Almighty, perceiving only the obstacles instead of the God Omnipotent. Then, are the DOUBT-CASTERS. A doubt-caster takes “naysaying” to a whole new level. The doubt-caster is the one who insists that his way is the right way, and there is no other way of seeing things. In verse 32, we see the doubt-casters spreading doubts into the faith in God. One of the most damaging things that can ever happen in a church is for one or two people to start casting doubt. When that happens, division happens. When division happens, the devil is tickled because he is fulfilling his mission of killing, stealing and destroying, as Jesus is warning His disciples. We can all be guilty of this if we allow it to happen. Then, there are those who convincingly always feel that: – “I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH”. For whatever reason they believe the lies and get self-inflicted with this Grasshopper Mentality. They have to learn by heart Psalm 139, confessing: – How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139: 17)
What, then, is the purpose of this strange story? God’s promise was also a firm mission given to His People: –The Lord our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance … Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore He would give to your fathers – to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and to their descendants after them (Deuteronomy 1: 6-8). This is why the Jewish People still believe in their Godly inheritance.
- – GOD, WHO DID NOT SPARE HIS OWN SON, BUT GAVE HIM UP FOR US ALL – HOW WILL HE NOT ALSO, ALONG WITH HIM, GRACIOUSLY GIVE US ALL THINGS? asked Apostle Paul in conclusion. God has done the greatest thing imaginable for us by sacrificing His Own Son. Ultimately, Christ’s death was not a human caused tragedy, but a divinely ordained solution to our sin and guilt. Christ’s death was substitutionary. Because Jesus paid the penalty, we can justly be declared righteous at His expense. Christ’s death was the supreme demonstration of God’s love and grace for us sinners. Once, to a question about salvation, Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18: 27). Paul is firmly based on this when asking, – If God is for us, who can be against us? He believes that God will graciously supply us with all that is needed for life and godliness. If God did the unimaginably greatest thing possible for us, then will He not do that which is far less demanding? What Paul means here are not the physical-material everyday needs we are tempted so often to ask for, but giving us all that we need to get rid of the “grasshopper mentality, “and to be able to conquer “the promise land” of forgiveness of sins and life eternal. Sometimes we may wander from the way, but the Father’s response is to give the grace of repentance; at other times we may be assaulted to force us off the road, but the Father’s response is to give us grace of resistance; on occasions we might lose the practice of brotherly love, but the response of the Father will always be to give us the grace of forgiveness and reconciliation. These examples could be detailed in long lists. But however long, they would not extend beyond God’s capability to meet the NEED. This promise is a great basis for assurance. God has already given us the BEST, so He will surely give the rest as well. It is also a marvelous encouragement for prayer: to express gratitude for all God’s blessings, guidance and salvation given to us, and to intercede on behalf of others for these same things so important to us. And these prayers are to be addressed to the God who constantly wishes to meet the needs of all His people.
- – GOD’S WAYS ARE NOR OUR WAYS, HIS THOUGHTS ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS (Isaiah 55: 8-9). God works in mysterious ways.
GEORGE MATHESON (1842-1906) was only fifteen when he was told that he was losing what little eyesight he had. Instead of giving up, he continued with his plan to enroll in the University of Glasgow and graduated at age nineteen. But, as he continued graduate studies in Theology for Christian Ministry, he finally lost his sight. His sisters faithfully helped him in his learning and completing his studies. But Matheson’s spirit collapsed when his fiancée, unwilling to be married to a blind man, broke their engagement and returned his ring. He never married, and the pain of that rejection never totally left him. Years later, as a well-known preacher in Scotland, his sister came to him, announcing her engagement. He rejoiced with her, but his mind went back to his own heartache. He consoled himself in thinking of God’s love which is never limited, never conditional, never withdrawn, and never uncertain. Out of this experience he wrote the hymn, O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go:
O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO,
I REST MY WEARY SOUL IN THEE;
I GIVE THEE BACK THE LIFE I OWE,
THAT IN THINE OCEAN DEPTHS IT FLOW
MAY RICHER, FULLER BE.
Human love is very uncertain, and surely all of us here today have experienced rejection at some point in our lives. Like George Matheson we need to learn to lean on and trust God’s perfect love, and if God is with us, who can be against us? NODODY and NOTHING, becoming exempt from the Grasshopper Mentality.
LET US PRAY:
LIVING AND LOVING GOD, we thank You for Your promise that when we come together in the name of Christ, You are always there for us. IF YOU ARE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? -we confess with Paul. Free us Lord, from the Grasshopper Mentality, not trusting enough Your support, Your guidance, and Your plan for us. You have shown us grace throughout our lives, forgiving and re-forming us on to the likeness of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Loving Father of us all, we thank You for Your protection and healing during these difficult days, weeks, and months, for leading us safely through a time when the future seems dark and the present uncertain. Whenever we needed You, You have been there always for us. May all we experience a renewal of our trust in Your continuing purpose for us. May it give us food for faith in times of difficulty yet to come. May it inspire us to stay with You just as You are with us always. We thank You that You are a God who is constantly at work – in our day-to-day lives, in our fellowship, in the Church, and in the world. For all Your mercies, we praise You. Day by day, week by week, year by year, You are working out Your purpose. Seen or unseen, recognised or unrecognised, appreciated or just taken for granted, You are moving through Your Spirit, striving to build Your Kingdom and fulfil Your will. We do not claim to be a perfect family, for we are all too conscious of our weaknesses as individuals and as Your Family. But we praise You that You have called us here as one people, in fellowship with You and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord. In His name we pray for all those who are not here with us for different reasons, for Your healing touch on all those who are not well, or suffering of Coronavirus. Comfort those who are mourning, accompany those who are alone, be with our children and youth during their holiday, and support all who become unemployed because of the economic difficulties of our time. Bless Her Majesty our Queen and the Royal family with the leaders of the world, and hear our prayers for all those whom we love and are concerned of, quietly naming in our hearts… through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH- 677) – O LOVE THAT WILT NOT LET ME GO, I rest my weary soul in The:; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way, I yield my flickering torch to Thee: My heart restores its borrowed ray, that in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day may brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee: I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee: I lay in dust life’s glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red life that shall endless be.
BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD; I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE NATIONS, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH. THE LORD ALMIGHTY IS WITH US; THE GOD OF JACOB IS OUR FORTRESS. (Psalm 46:10)
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. (2 Corinthians 13: 14)