I WILL TELL OF THE KINDNESSES OF THE LORD, THE DEEDS FOR WHICH HE IS TO BE PRAISED, ACCORDING TO ALL THE LORD HAS DONE FOR US… (Isaiah 63: 7a)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP.
OPENING HYMN (CH-11): – JESUS, STAND AMONG US in Thy risen power; let this time of worship be a hallowed hour.
Breathe the Holy Spirit into every heart; bid the fears and sorrows from each soul depart.
Thus with quickened footsteps we pursue our way, watching for the dawning of eternal day.
LET US PRAY:
LIVING AND LOVING GOD, You tell us that humankind is made in Your image, created in Your likeness, but when we look at who and what we are, we see little there bearing any resemblance to You. Thank You, Lord God, that we still can come and meet You this morning, not with fear but with faith, for You look on us with love and compassion, seeking to heal rather than to harm, to help instead of to hurt. Thank You that we can look You in the eye with confidence, assured that, despite our faults, weaknesses and disobedience, You accept us as we are, desiring only what is good – for us and for all. Give us Your healing Word in Christ, bless our worship, and remain with us as You have promised. Help us to glorify Your Holy Name here and everywhere, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, one Eternal God. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – PSALM 34: 18.
THE LORD IS CLOSE TO THE BROKEN-HEARTED AND SAVES THOSE WHO ARE CRUSHED IN SPIRIT.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – JOHN 20: 30 – 31.
JESUS DID MANY OTHER MIRACULOUS SIGNS IN THE PRESENCE OF HIS DISCIPLES, WHICH ARE NOT RECORDED IN THIS BOOK. BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN THAT YOU MAY BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD, AND THAT BY BELIEVING YOU MAY HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME.
Some say that the law of self-preservation is the first law of life. John appeals to this statement in his Gospel. He affirms that God is vitally interested in our eternal preservation (John 3: 16!). He declares that Christ came into the world to give His life that we may have life, and have it to the full (10: 10). The Lord Jesus kept on reminding people during His whole ministry on earth that He is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34: 18). John desired that all people would come to experience abundant life through faith in Jesus Christ, encouraging his readers to something more than just giving intellectual consent to the truth that Jesus Christ is uniquely the Son of God. John was vitally concerned that those who read his Gospel come to experience life in its finest form and in its richest quality, making Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.
In his statement of purpose, John affirmed his use of the privilege of selectivity concerning the contents of his Gospel. He did not tell the whole story that could have been told concerning the life, work, and teachings of the Lord. He omitted many things so that he might emphasize more clearly his central message defined by the psalmist. He was eager to share the Good News so that people could come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. As we face the new year – with all its concerns, hopes, and faithful expectations – we should give serious consideration to letting John’s main message be the guiding principle for our lives as we walk through another year toward eternity.
John selected seven great signs, miracles, wonders, and illuminations under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to convince the minds and hearts of people that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, and worthy of all the confidence we can place in Him, as in our Saviour.
- – THE TURNING OF WATER INTO WINE. (John 2: 1 – 11) To understand the significance of this event, we need to go back into the historical situation. We find Jesus Christ – the Lord of Life – attending a wedding in a simple home in Cana of Galilee, probably of someone related through family-bonds to His mother, Mary. – Jesus prevented embarrassment to those who were not able to provide an abundance of wine for the crowd who came to the wedding, and expected great hospitality. – Jesus made possible increased joy on a festive and social occasion. – Jesus demonstrated His unique power over nature. – Jesus illustrated His availability, His ability, and His desire to make life better than it initially was. Christ can make our lives richer, fuller, and more joyful if we trust Him and obey Him in faithful love.
- – THE HEALING OF THE OFFICIAL’S SON. (John 4: 46 – 54) – In this miracle Jesus revealed His power over diseases.– Jesus revealed His power over distance. The Official’s son was twenty miles away from where he and Jesus were having their conversation. Jesus just said to the man, – You may go. Your son will live (4: 50). And that answer of the Lord was more than enough. – This sign revealed Jesus’ compassionate concern for people with heavy hearts. – The Official and his household made a proper response to Jesus Christ. He believed along with the rest of the members of his household. From that moment he had a new Master. As John says, – So he and all his household believed (4: 53).
- – THE HEALING OF A LAME MAN AT THE POOL. (John 5: 1 – 15) – Jesus healed a man who was helpless, lonely, and poor. – The compassionate Saviour genuinely cares for those who are helpless, and worthless to others. – This miracle took place on the Jewish Sabbath. By acting on the Sabbath, Jesus showed that the work of God is continuous and that it must not be limited by custom or religious traditions. – Christ was also interested in the man’s soul. He was not merely content to exercise a medical ministry to the man. Jesus sought him out and encouraged him, – See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you! (5: 14).
- – THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND. (John 6: 1 – 14) – The Compassionate Christ was concerned and continues to be concerned with those who suffer from physical hunger. – With His Divine Power, Jesus was – and always will be– willing to meet the needs of those who suffer from starvation and hunger. – Christ demonstrated His capacity and desire to use small things in a very significant manner, in order to bless a great multitude, calling in at the end His disciples, – Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten (John 6: 12-13). Jesus used this occasion of feeding people with bread to talk about the BREAD OF ETERNAL LIFE.
- – JESUS WALKED ON THE WATER. (John 6: 16 – 24) – The Creator God in Christ demonstrated His power over nature. – The Creator Christ illustrated His power over the causes of human fear, – He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” (6: 20). – By coming to His disciples during the night and the storm, Jesus Christ revealed His availability to aid the helpless and the fearful in their times of danger and distress. Jesus sees us today and knows about our fears and insecurity during this Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. He comes to us walking across the sea of life to where we are and all that we are facing. He is always just a prayer away. He comes to help us in our times of need. He is ready to save us from catastrophes we fear. He wants to be with us till the very end of the age.
- – THE HEALING OF THE MAN BORN BLIND. (John 9). – Jesus Christ is the source of light and illumination concerning the mysteries of time and eternity. Being asked by His disciples, – Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? – Jesus answered, – Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. (John 9: 2-5). – Jesus Christ is the source of real life because He is the Son of God. It is important to observe in the story the progression in the man’s understanding of Jesus. First, he know Jesus simply as a man (9: 11), and then he speaks of Him as a prophet (9: 17). He finally comes to believe in Him as the Son of God (9: 35-38) – Jesus offers not only sight-healing but a spiritual-sight also, to recognize Him as the Son of God and our Saviour. Those Pharisees who rejected and attacked Him were told by Jesus, – For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind… If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.(9: 39-41)
- – JESUS RAISED LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD. (John 11: 1 – 54) – By this miracle we perceive the sincere sympathy of the Son of God for those who suffer grief and sorrow. The comforting Word of God preached at funeral services has its origins and support in this story. Jesus said, – This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it … Your brother will rise again … I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. DO YOU BELIEVE THIS ? (John 11: 4, 23, 25). And Lazarus was raised from the dead. – By this miracle Jesus revealed His Lordship over life, death, and the grave. Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin … If we let Him go on like this – they said – everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation … Then … Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, -“You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than the whole nation parish.”… Therefore, Jesus no longer moved about publicity among the Jews … (John 11: 45-47, 49-50, 54). Indeed, Jesus had to die, that we may live. John the Apostle was fully convinced that Jesus Christ had the power to resurrect. He can bring life back to our hearts and souls. He has the power to resurrect us.
WE ARE NOT ON THE WAY TO DEATH ! Through the Risen Lord, we are on the way to eternal life, abundant life. Jesus Christ makes possible for us the life that grows and reproduces itself not only here on earth for physical being, but also spiritually for all eternity. During this year, – we have just entered – we have to reconsider our faith in Jesus as these examples from John’s “Spiritual” Gospel did. In desperate situations, anxious for loved ones, struggling with infirmity, loneliness, advanced age, concerned about shortage of money and food, fearing the unknown effects of the Coronavirus, or blinded by the fear of death, we should always remember what Jesus said, – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7: 7). AMEN.
LET US PRAY:
GRACIOUS LORD GOD, thank You for this world and the life You have given us, so full of delight, so surrounded by beauty. Though it is far from perfect – scarred by pain, sorrow, suffering, death, disease, conflict and cruelty – there is also so much loveliness within it. You have given us Your Son, to be our Saviour, and to enable us to approach You, our Creator, not only with fear and awe but with love and confidence. We thank You for Jesus in whom we are Your children again, and beneficiaries of Your everlasting grace. We thank You that through Him we can have Your help, healing, comfort, support, guidance, protection, and even life for evermore. Open our eyes to everything that speaks of Your presence, so that each day we may respond to You in glad thanksgiving. Father God, reach out to all who are unwell and grant relief from pain, comfort in sorrow, hope in despair, and reassurance in moments of fear and anxiety. Bless those who work around the clock to bring healing to all who suffer from Coronavirus, those who offer counsel and consolation, those involved in research seeking new cures and treatments against the new variant of the virus. Be with those who care for loved-ones, and those whose lives have been overturned by the disease striking themselves or those dear to them. Grant by Your mercy and grace a sense of wholeness even in the worst of the circumstances many people are in, and make them well. Help their families, friends, and colleagues, as they struggle to come to terms with their feelings, to see not the illness but the individual who bears Your image, to be made whole. We have so much to be grateful for; teach us to appreciate the many blessings we are receiving through Jesus Christ. Bless Your Church here and everywhere; our Church of Scotland in all its fellowships, worships and charity-works. Hear our prayers for all those whom we specifically want to name to You, and ask that You bestow Your blessings upon their lives … Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN: – WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden, cumbered with a load of care? Precious Saviour, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; in His arms He’ll take and shield thee, thou wilt find a solace there.
MAY THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALL. (2 Corinthians 13: 14)
Sandor, your Minister.