I LOVE THE LORD, FOR HE HEARD MY VOICE; HE HEARD MY CRY FOR MERCY. BECAUSE HE TURNED HIS EAR TO ME, I WILL CALL ON HIM AS LONG AS I LIVE.
(Psalm 116: 1-2)
WECOME TO OUR SUNDAY MORNING WEB-WORSHIP
OPENING HYMN: (CH-13) – LIGHT OF THE ANXIOUS HEART, Jesus, Thou dost appear, to bid the gloom of guilt depart, and shed Thy sweetness here.
Joyous is he with whom, God’s Word, Thou dost abide, sweet Light of our eternal home, to fleshly sense denied.
Brightness of God above, unfathomable grace, Thy presence be a fount of love within Thy chosen place.
LET US PRAY:
LOVING GOD, we have come today seeking to know You better, for though we long to serve You, our commitment is weak, and our faith is poor. Meet with us now, in this time we have set aside, and speak through the Word we will hear, the silence we share, the prayers we offer, and the fellowship we enjoy. Challenge us where we are lacking, forgive us where we resist Your will, correct us where we have gone astray, and instruct us where we need guidance. Move among us through Your Spirit, and grant us the encouragement and inspiration to walk more faithfully the way of Your Son, by His grace and in His strength, now and always. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – 1. KINGS 19: 7–9. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CAME BACK A SECOND TIME AND TOUCHED HIM AND SAID, “GET UP AND EAT, FOR THE JOURNEY IS TOO MUCH FOR YOU.” SO HE GOT UP AND ATE AND DRANK. STRENGTHENED BY THAT FOOD, HE TRAVELLED FOR FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS UNTIL HE REACHED HOREB, THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD. THERE HE WENT INTO A CAVE AND SPENT THE NIGHT. AND THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO HIM: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE, ELIJAH ?”
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – LUKE 19: 1–10. JESUS ENTERED JERICHO AND WAS PASSING THROUGH. A MAN WAS THERE BY THE NAME OF ZACCHAEUS; HE WAS A CHIEF TAX COLLECTOR AND WAS WEALTHY. HE WANTED TO SEE WHO JESUS WAS, BUT BEING A SHORT MAN HE COULD NOT, BECAUSE OF THE CROWD. SO HE RAN AHEAD AND CLIMBED A SYCAMORE-FIG TREE TO SEE HIM, SINCE JESUS WAS COMING THAT WAY. WHEN JESUS REACHED THE SPOT, HE LOOKED UP AND SAID TO HIM, “ZACCHAEUS, COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY. I MUST STAY AT YOUR HOUSE TODAY.” SO HE CAME DOWN AT ONCE AND WELCOMED HIM GLADLY. ALL THE PEOPLE SAW THIS AND BEGAN TO MUTTER, “HE HAS GONE TO BE THE GUEST OF A SINNER.” ZACCHAEUS STOOD UP AND SAID TO THE LORD, “LOOK, LORD ! HERE AND NOW I GIVE HALF OF MY POSSESIONS TO THE POOR, AND IF I HAVE CHEATED ANYBODY OUT OF ANYTHING, I WILL PAY BACK FOUR TIMES THE AMOUNT.” JESUS SAID TO HIM, “TODAY SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOUSE, BECAUSE THIS MAN, TOO, IS A SON OF ABRAHAM. FOR THE SON OF MAN CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE WHAT WAS LOST.”
Jesus went to Jericho when Calvary was only one week away. He demonstrated deep concern for a man who was hated and despised by the people of the city. Instead of seeking popularity, the Lord sought out the most hated man in order that changes might be made in his heart and life, and that would bring changes within the city of Jericho as well. Jesus intended to change the structures of the society by bringing great changes within individuals, giving them new insight concerning the nature and character of God. The well-known story of Zacchaeus has a timeless message concerning the role of Christians and of the Church in a world so much loved by God, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3: 16).
- – CHRIST BECAME A SELF INVITED GUEST: – Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today (Luke 19: 5). There was something very personal and very pressing about this statement. This had been Jesus’ only opportunity to render a personal ministry to this man, as well as Zacchaeus’ unique chance to have a personal “interview” with Christ. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem; this was His last visit in Jericho, and it was necessary that Zacchaeus respond immediately and decisively to his opportunity. – Christ came in LOVE for Zacchaeus. The Lord always deals with people on the basis of His Love. The source of LOVE must be discovered in God rather than in the loveliness of those who are the objects of His affection. Jesus came to Zacchaeus, who otherwise was hated and despised, to give him the true LOVE OF GOD. – Christ came to Zacchaeus because of His Love for others. The Lord loved Zacchaeus’ neighbours. He needed Zacchaeus as a channel of love that he might be a blessing to his neighbours. God wanted to change Zacchaeus in order to transform his enemies into friends. – Christ continues to seek the Zacchaeuses of our day. God does not avoid people whose lives are unlovely. Jesus’ redemptive action wants to motivate His Church and Christians to bring the joy of sonship through love into the hearts and lives of those who might not even know their CHANCE of Salvation-through-Jesus-Christ.
- – A SEEKING SINNER WAS FOUND BY THE SEEKING SAVIOUR. – The sinner does not consciously and deliberately seek God. Humans, instead of choosing to cooperate with God, rebel against Him in self-love and in self-trust. The Bible describes humanity as being dead in sin. People are cut off from God and do not seek Him consciously and deliberately (Romans 3: 10-12). – Deep within every human being there is a “God-shaped-vacuum” that only God Himself can fill. Zacchaeus was rich, but he was not happy. Although his stomach was satisfied, his heart was hungry for acceptance by God and acceptance by his fellow men. He was unloved in his city, perhaps unloved even in his own house, but loved by Christ. Most likely he could not see anything within himself that was very lovable. Zacchaeus had been looking for life in the wrong way and the wrong place. Fortunate indeed he was that Christ came his way.
- – CHRIST CAME TO CHANGE THE WRONG WAYS OF LIVES. Jesus did not come to pronounce a benediction on the status quo of human societies. He came to produce revolutionary changes that transform and enrich the lives of those who believe in Him. – Jesus wants to change the tempting superficial religious “bigotry”. Our Lord exposed Himself to the hostility of the people in the city of Jericho – as well as that of His disciples – when he decided to express friendship toward the “publican” Zacchaeus. Because of his relationship with the Roman Army of occupation, Zacchaeus became an outcast. He was unwelcome in any of the religious and social activities in the city, but he was not outside the concern of the heart of God. Have we abandoned some segments of our society and considered them to be outside of the circle of God’s Love ? Indeed, we should re-examine the pattern that our Lord followed. – Christ helped Zacchaeus to make some changes in his way of life. We can only speculate concerning the things that were discussed during Jesus’ visit to Zacchaeus’ home, but it is interesting to notice some of the results of that visit. Christ helped Zacchaeus to replace the greed that was in his heart with graciousness and generosity – (Luke 19: 8). Perhaps our Lord helped Zacchaeus to see that true happiness does not come as a result of greedily grasping after material things, radically changing his philosophy of life. – Christ helped Zacchaeus to replace selfishness with righteousness in his mind and in his conduct. Only a profound change in his mentality could bring about such an important change in Zacchaeus’ conduct. Christ gave to him, and Zacchaeus accepted, a new purpose of life.
- – CHRIST CAN CHANGE THINGS TODAY. Christ will not come into our hearts merely to occupy a space as a silent, uninvolved spectator of how often we sit in a church, sing the psalms, follow the sermons, or say our more or less relevant prayers. – Jesus wants to change our hearts and minds. Let us have Him to be more than a Saviour from the penalty of sin. He wants to be the Master of our lives. He wants to be our Teacher, giving us authentic truth about God for the living of a proper life. He wants to be our Friend and our Counsellor. – Jesus wants to bring changes into family-lives. He wants to help us to be a better husband or wife, son or daughter, making LOVE real and relevant in everything that we say and do. He will help us to avoid tensions and conflicts not because we have to be seen as Christians, but because we really are Christ-like-people. – Christ will seek to bring about changes within the neighbourhood, the city and country as individuals let Him become the guiding and controlling factor of their lives. – Not least, Christ will bring about changes in the Church. – Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with Me. (Revelations 3: 20). These words actually were addressed to a church. The Lord wanted to abide within them and to use them as His instrument through which He could bless communities and the world, as He did through Elijah and Zacchaeus, and many others.
The Christ of whom we read in the New Testament lives today as the conqueror of death and the source of everlasting life. That Radical Change He did during His earthly ministry, and he continues to seek to do through His Church and through His followers in the Church. Christ came, and comes, to change things for the better in a world and lives that are far from perfect. All the uncertainties and dangers that surround us, are in a way calling us to climb that sycamore-tree, as Zacchaeus did long ago, to see The One Who can bring change and solution into individual – and worldwide – desperate situations.
When Jesus walked down the street of Jericho and found Zacchaeus on the limb of that tree, some great things happened. Zacchaeus discovered, – “He sees me! He knows me! He wants me!” And he decided, – “He can have me!” Christ will continue to bring about change in those, and through those, who will let Him come to dwell within them as He came that day to visit in the home of Zacchaeus. As soon as TODAY salvation can come to everyone, and every house, for THE SON OF MAN CAME TO SEEK AND SAVE WHAT WAS LOST.
I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR, MOST GRACIOUS LORD; NO TENDER VOICE BUT THINE CAN PEACE AFFORD.
I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR; STAY THOU NEAR BY; TEMPTATIONS LOSE THEIR POWER WHEN THOU ART NIGH.
I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR, IN JOY OR IN PAIN; COME QUICKLY AND ABIDE, OR LIFE IS VAIN.
I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR; TEACH ME THY WILL; AND THY RICH PROMISES IN ME FULFIL. (Church Hymnary, 688.)
LET US PRAY:
GOD OF ALL KINDNESS, You gave You Son, because You loved the world so much. Move among us by Your Spirit, break down barriers of fear, suspicion, and hatred. Heal the human family of its divisions and unite it in the bonds of justice, cooperation and peace. We pray for our country. Enrich our common life; strengthen the forces of truth and goodness; teach us to share prosperity, that those whose lives are impoverished may pass from need and despair to dignity and joy. Bless Her Majesty our Queen, the Royal Family, the Parliament and the Government as well as all the leaders of the world. We pray for all those who suffer, especially for those affected by Coronavirus. Heal them with Your Power, surround them with Your Love, support them with Your Strength, console them with Your Comfort, and give them hope and courage beyond themselves. We pray for our families and loved-ones wherever they are and whatever they are going through. Protect them, and support them in these times of difficulty and anxiety, that they may grow together in mutual love and understanding, and rest content in one another. Gracious Lord God, hear our prayers for all those whom we now name quietly in our hearts . . . Lord, hear our prayers. We pray for the Christian Church Universal in all its branches. We pray for our Church of Scotland in all its presbyteries and parishes, and for our own fellowship’s members and adherents here in this place, with all our sisters and brothers of other denominations. Make known Your Saving Power in Jesus Christ, by the witness of our faith, worship, and Christ-like-life. Make us worthy of Your Goodness. Open our hearts to love and praise You, and inspire us always to live for Your Glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever.
THE LORD’ PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN: (CH-139) – I TO THE HILLS WILL LIFT MINE EYES, from whence doth come mine aid? My safety cometh from the Lord, who heaven and earth hath made.
Thy foot He’ll not let slide, nor will he slumber that thee keeps. Behold, He that keeps Israel, He slumbers not, nor sleeps.
The Lord thee keeps, the Lord thy shade on thy right hand doth stay; the moon by night thee shall not smite, nor yet the sun by day.
The Lord shall keep thy soul; He shall preserve thee from all ill. Henceforth thy going out and in God keep for ever will.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, The God whom we adore, be glory, as it was, and is, and shall be evermore. Amen.
THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU; THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS TO YOU; THE LORD TURN HIS FACE TOWARDS YOU AND GIVE YOU PEACE (Numbers 6: 24-26) 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)