Acts 1:1-11 “Witnessing with Power”

The Book of Acts begins with Jesus calling the Apostles to be his witnesses. Though he will soon ascend, he doesn’t leave them alone: They are to wait in Jerusalem until they receive the power of the Holy Spirit. God is about to do a radical work through the Apostles, using them as witnesses to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We too, as we join in the great commission of Christ, are called to witness to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Neither proclamation nor humble dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit can be missing from our efforts to speak about what Christ did and said.

In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

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Nehemiah 1:11 “Give Me Success”

Today we are asking ourselves the question – What do you really want? Nehemiah asked for God to give him success. Cs Lewis said “ It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” As we consider what it means to be successful we can be challenged not because our desires are too strong but too weak. We are satisfied with selfish desires when we have the freedom in Christ to pursue a God shaped desire for success.

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Nehemiah 1:11

11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”

2 Corinthians 12:1-10 “Remove the Thorn”

Today we are asking ourselves the question, “What do you really want?” What the Apostle Paul wanted was to have the thorn removed from his flesh. The Lord Jesus replied to him by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, my grace is made perfect in weakness.” We all carry thorns in the flesh to certain degrees. Your thorn may well be physical or emotional pain, or even spiritual torment. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we are ready – if that is the Lord’s will – to hear him say, “No.” The encouragement we see in the life of Paul is that, though he did not have the thorn removed, Christ drew him into his grace in a more powerful way and demonstrated his power through him despite his weaknesses. So much so, that Paul eventually found both contentment and reason to boast in his weaknesses.

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

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Sermon recordings unavailable from 10 December 2017 to 14 January 2018

Due to technical and operational difficulties, we were unable to record the sermons from Sunday 10 December 2017 to Sunday 14 January 2018. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Sermon records have resumed from Sunday 21 January. You are more than welcome to join us on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. for our usual worship services at The Piano, 156 Armagh Street, Christchurch Central.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this message or would like to find out anything else about our congregation, please send an email to info@gracechristchurch.co.nz or call 03 358 8928.

Blessings,

The Grace Presbyterian Church Digital Media Team

1King 3:3-15 “What do you really want? Wisdom.”

Solomon made a radical request of God – Give me wisdom. Solomon knew how much he needed wisdom when he encountered a situation well beyond his own ability yet God still expected Solomon to ask for Wisdom. Solomon did and was richly blessed with Wisdom. In James 1 5 it says ‘If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it will be given to them’. God regularly provides overwhelming situations in our lives where we realise we aren’t wise enough to get through. In these situations he tells us to come to him and seek wisdom and he promises to be generous to you if you do. Do you really want wisdom? – Ask God for it. What would you rather have if you don’t want wisdom?

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1 Kings 3:3-15

Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”

10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. 14 And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

15 And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.

Genesis 32:22-32 “What do you really want?”

Today’s sermon looks at Jacob’s desperate desire to be blessed. He tries everything he can to bring himself blessing and fulfilment, but eventually realises that true blessing can only come from relationship with God.

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Genesis 32:22-32

22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children,[e] and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,[f] for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel,[g] saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.

Jonah 4

Do you really want other people to experience the mercy of God? Do you really want to experience God’s mercy yourself? Jonah didn’t want Nineveh to experience God’s mercy, but God wasn’t content with this, so he reminded Jonah just how much he himself enjoys the mercy of God by shading him from the heat with a plant. We too need to be reminded regularly of God’s mercy in order that we would continue to hope for God to be merciful to others.

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Jonah 4

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly,[a] and he was angry. 2 And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”

5 Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. 6 Now the Lord God appointed a plant[b] and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.[c] So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. 7 But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” 9 But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

 

Genesis 50:15-21 “God meant it for good”

Andrew de Vries

In this sermon, Andrew explains how all of Joseph’s trials were meant for good by God.  God’s providence is something we can trust in daily.

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Genesis 50:15-21

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[a] should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Jonah 3:1-10 “radical mission”

To come to a place of true appreciation for God’s Grace we must first journey through seasons of repentance. Like the people of Nineveh we go through a similar journey where God shows us our wickedness, and as we repent He exercises His mercy and forgiveness to us.

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Jonah 3:1-10

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days’ journey in breadth.[b] 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.  6 The word reached[c] the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Jonah 1:17-2:10: Radical Renewal

In times of hardship and suffering we are often motivated to ask, “Why?”, and to feel that God is absent or is shutting us out. In this passage, we see how suffering can be used by God as a means to our spiritual renewal. Jonah’s unusual rescue from drowning and his prayer point us to God as the source of salvation from our distress.

Jonah 1:17-2:10

17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

“I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
    the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
    whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
    LORD my God.
When my life was fainting away,
    I remembered the LORD,
and my prayer came to you,
    into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

10 And the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

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    Starting December 25, 2016, Sunday Morning Worship takes place at 10am in the Piano, located on 156 Armagh Street. Free parking for GPC attendees is available off Oxford Terrace.