6 September 2020
Updated: Sep 6
Acts 12 - God sees, hears and helps us
Welcome everyone! Today Christy will be leading us in worship, and Alan will be bringing the message.
First of all, Happy Golden Wedding Anniversary to Vicky and David! We celebrate this precious milestone with you and pray that God's loving presence and guidance would continue to light both your lives through the partnership and friendship he's blessed you with.
To anyone else joining us today who is celebrating a birthday or anniversary this week, may God bless you richly on your special day as you reflect on the life he's given you.
The world's tallest trees actually have relatively shallow root systems. What allows them to stand so tall is that their roots spread out and intertwine with those of their neighbours, giving them the strength to stand through any storm.
God has given us a similar source of strength in our spiritual family and its something we are constantly looking for ways to strengthen, particularly in the face of our current enforced isolation. Online prayer groups, bible studies, coffee/walking/dinner dates - these are some of the ways we're staying connected. We're also currently looking at the possibility of re-starting live services. Please scroll to the notices section at the bottom of this blog to find out what these might look like and let us know if you'd be interested in attending by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The children's service can be found on www.hillsong.co.uk, or go to YouTube: "Hillsong kids online service". It is released each Sunday morning, so do check that it is the most recent post!
Lord, would you open our hearts to the message that Alan would bring us today so that your light can reach into any dark places within us and restore what is good.
Reading & Sermon
John Ortberg shares a story about a woman visiting her beautician. Their conversation turned to God and the beautician declared:
"I don't believe God exists... Tell me, if God exists would there be so many sick people? Would there be so many abandoned children? If God existed there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine loving a God who could allow all these things."
The woman having her nails done didn't want to start an argument and remained silent. As she left the shop, she saw a woman on the street who looked filthy. Going back into the shop, she said:
"Beauticians do not exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair appearing very unkempt, like that woman outside."
"Ah, but beauticians do exist... the problem is, people do not come to me," responded the beautician.
"Exactly," replied her customer.
God soon looks pretty absent from our lives too when we make no room for him to work on us. Nick and I were blessed to go away to Hastings a few weeks ago. One morning I went out for a walk on my own and felt the Lord leading me onto the beach to investigate the balustrades that had been erected to guard against erosion. I was reminded that we have been given a number of tools to guard against the erosion of our faith:
One could add things like,
* time alone with God;
* fostering an awareness of his Holy Spirit within us by practising listening; and
* fasting (admittedly my least favourite but worth it in the end).
When we start to let these things slip, so does our faith, as an ocean of clashing values and ideas assail our shores, shifting the sands of our thinking and devotion. The christian life is a disciplined one, not because we need to "measure up" to be loved or saved by God, but because we're born with a sinful nature that needs dealing with, a childlike understanding of the world that needs maturing, a relationship with God that needs nurturing, and a life full of discoveries and experiences that cry out for skilful and abundant living!
"Blessed are the ones who do not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But their delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever they do prospers."
Lord, we acknowledge our own frailty. We've got all kinds of ideas about how we'd like you to fix the world, but to be honest, we don't have a very clear picture at all of what you might be doing behind the scenes through everything that is going on. As far as we are able, would you align our thoughts and hearts with yours as we pray now?
Be silent for a moment and allow the Lord to bring to mind anything that you might need to let go of. Don't dwell on it too long, simply apologise for letting it get the better of you and hand it over to God, asking him to take it from you and to help you overcome it going forward.
If you're with someone, you might like to pray aloud together as you work through the following:
Take time to consider your family and friends. Give thanks for any special memories that were made this week and lift up any needs you're aware of, asking for God's presence to be made manifest (obvious and active) in those circumstances.
Take time to consider the things you've seen in the news this week and ask God to guide you towards any events or people he'd like you to pray for.
Lord, we think of Peter's situation in Acts 12, chained between guards, unable to do much more than pray and worship. In some ways we as your church currently feel chained up behind closed doors too, not just in places of religious persecution, but throughout the world due to COVID-19. It would be easy to let our christian community erode, but we want to take a moment now to consider the blessing we have found in being part of a spiritual family, and the longing that our spirits feel to meet again:
Thank you so much for the gift of our spiritual family. We might not always see eye to eye on everything, but where else do we find forgiveness, grace, support, and love in such boundless measure? In this way we so often get to experience you through one another!
You are a God of miracles who can bring a revival out of apparent dormancy. If that is something you want to do in our time, we would be so delighted to be a part of it! We offer ourselves to you to use in any way you choose. Come, Lord, have your way with us; place your prayers on our lips and your love in our hearts; your understanding of what needs to be done in our minds and your yearning in our souls. Awaken your spiritual gifts in us to use at your discretion.
For the sake of Jesus, who went through so much to save us all, amen.
Lord, teach us how to share the stories you're writing in our lives and please give us opportunities to do so often! Amen
If you'd like to donate to the work of this church, you can do so at:
Hayling Island Baptist Church
Sort code: 53-50-33
If you would like to find out more about how and why Christians donate to churches this article provides relevant scriptures and some interesting history on the topic.
If you'd like to share a testimony, you can send this to email@example.com at any time and it will be forwarded to the worship leader for that week to include either on our testimonies page or in the service that week.
Should we resume services at the Community Centre?
According to government and Baptist Union guidelines, at present church services can be greater than 30 people as long as certain conditions are met. The Hayling Island Community Centre has done the necessary calculations and notified us that their main hall can socially distance up to 63 people. If we were to resume services, the following conditions would have to be adhered to by all in attendance:
· Temperature taken on entry
· Track and trace details to be provided
· Face masks/visor to be worn at all times
· Social distancing adhered to (chairs placed 2m apart – family bubbles can be created)
· Singing only by worship leader
· No children’s club at this present time
· No communion
· Wipe down of key areas before and after service
If you feel willing, able and led to attend such a service, please notify us by email firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than 13 September. We will notify you once a final decision has been made based on the responses.
Paul Dennison, from the Bridge Church, is collecting for the Food Bank. Sarah and David are still happy to receive food at their home until we are back at church, and even then to organise its delivery to the Bridge. The government has said they will only provide vouchers for the summer and not in future holidays, so Hayling Holiday Lunches will resume when needed.
As you meet this week, begin by praying for the Holy Spirit to guide your discussion. Then read Acts 12 and consider these questions:
1. There are many miracles recorded in the Bible. What do you think the purpose of miracles is?
2. There are two appearances of two angels in this chapter. The first angel rescues Peter in a surprisingly hands-on way. Compare his treatment with the treatment the angel gives to Herod. What lesson do you think Luke means us to draw from this?
3. What can we learn from the response of Peter and Paul (see Acts 16: 22 - 25) to imprisonment?
4. The Church is bewilderingly slow to believe that God has answered their prayers. Peter is left at the door, while Rhoda runs to tell them the news, and those inside dismiss the happening as "his angel" (meaning they thought Rhoda had seen Peter's risen spirit on its way to heaven) - so weak was their faith! What encouragement does this bring you regarding some of the big prayers you are praying?
End by praying together.
If anyone would like to link in with a group, please let us know by emailing Sarah.