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Sunday 17th December 2017 11:00
Sung Eucharist for the Third Sunday of Advent followed by Coffee Hour
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30th July 2017 – Seventh Sunday After Trinity – Jack Noonan

Sermon 30.07.2017.

Focus Scripture: Romans. 8: 26 -39.

This morning I’d like to focus on the reading from Romans.
The passage is truly wonderful because it tells us of the unimaginable heights and depths of God’s love for you and me.
The passage feeds, strengthens and firmly grounds our God-given faith….. for it overflows with Assurance and Reassurance, Certainty and Comfort, Confidence and Consolation, together with Encouragement and Hope.

In Romans 8 we see writ large, that we believers are securely and eternally loved by our Sovereign God and Almighty Father …who has freely given us all things necessary for salvation ,in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Christ.

This extract is the climax of what many believers rightly consider to be the greatest chapter in the Bible….A chapter where through Paul the Holy Spirit declares to us who responded to God’s call to faith:

… that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God gives Himself no wriggle room with this declaration. And as Almighty God Himself is the guarantor, His promises move into the realm of certainties.

We learn, that as lovers of Jesus, even though we stumble, we will not ultimately be separated from God’s redeeming love by anything that is created.
No created being or demonic force can permanently stem or block the flow of Christ’s love toward us …Jesus has all authority…meaning the devil has none….other than what we give him.

For God’s irresistible grace will not only overcome the obstacles that obstruct and hinder us but, as with the cross for Jesus, and the thorn in the flesh that plagued Paul; God transforms these curses, converting them into sources of personal victory and eternal triumph to His glory.
Because…
We know, in fact, that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

It was Divine Love that redefined the cross, making it forever a sign of victory and not defeat.
It was Divine Love that transformed Paul’s attitude to his thorn in the flesh…Satan’s messenger… from something that plagued him to something that had him rejoicing in his weakness….In weakness God’s strength blazes.
So also will it be with the spiritual blockages and beleaguering hindrances that trip us in our own walk with Him.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

In the radical assertions of this passage our God stands firm, and true to His Word. There is no small ‘get kicked out of heaven’ clause hidden here. Almighty God Himself is the guarantor of our salvation. His grace is sufficient. Fact.

So let us step out in faith and with a bounce in our hearts let’s take God at His word and start rejoicing…..about ‘the good-in-the-news’.
It is not our grip on God that matters but God’s grip on us. Remember the Father’s word in Isaiah:

”Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hand.”

The Scottish Presbyterian theologian William Barclay once said;

”There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why. ”

It is God who gives our lives true focus, meaning and purpose.
We believers, since hearing, recognising and answering God’s call …..a call uttered by the Holy Spirit, have been set on a journey into eternity.
We do not journey alone. A Christian ‘going solo’ is an oxymoron,….for from the beginning of His ministry, Jesus formed an assembly of brothers and sisters.
The Holy Spirit of Christ now presides over this assembly and we believers are its members looking always to Jesus, the author and finisher of our great, total and complete, no-holes-barred salvation.
Our journey into Christ is not always plain sailing…especially when we have a lot of excess baggage to shed…..but throughout our process of sanctification we are not without help;

”… the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs/groans too deep for words.( track down the descriptions of Jesus at prayer)
And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for…” us.

‘Prayer is the divine in us ….appealing to the Divine above us.” (C.H. Dodd)
We journey into our unique wholeness, a wholeness that is completed in Christ Jesus.
Our Christlike wholeness, will bring glory to God as our familial resemblances to the glorified Jesus begin to show in us … as John says:

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him…’

So when we read earlier

‘… that God works all things together for good to those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.’

It begins to dawn on us that our heavenly Father has set a co-labouring goal for us:

For those whom he knew long ago( us believers) he long ago designed/marked out in advance(predestined) to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers.

These scriptures speak of us, believers ,changing into a likeness that we will derive from the Lord Jesus Himself…..not surface cloning…but moving into a conformity…into a likeness of His essence and resurrected nature.

The resurrected Christ is the firstborn within what will be a very very large family.There will be a new humanity modelled on Jesus, the last Adam. Our new humanity will be united in essence to Jesus, the Son of God…This resurrected humanity is being prepared now within His Bride,the Church… as we co-labouring with the grace of His Holy Spirit change from glory into glory.

Those ( us believers) whom he long ago marked out in advance(predestined) for this purpose, he also called; and those whom he called he put into a right relationship with himself; and those whom he put into a right relationship with himself he also glorified.

Notice the past tenses of the verbs. It is already done. We must seek to realise who and what we are in Christ.

What God expects of us, His grace enables in us. We need not fear what life or the devil may throw at us.
We are loved in and through Christ by the Almighty God who is our hope and strength who ‘will never leave us or forsake us’
So……..
What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us?……..No one
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Absolutely true
 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect (us)? Waste of time…
Because…It is God that justifies/makes us right .
Who is he that condemns? (doesn’t matter who tries)
Because…. It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
And returning to where the sermon started;
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Nay,( not a hope in hell) in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Then….Let God’s promise and purpose in our lives give us confidence to let go of our past mistakes…

Let God’s promise and purpose in our lives give us courage to press into our eternal future together with other lovers of Christ.

Let God’s promise and purpose in our lives strengthen in us commitment to co labour with Him today, in this time of grace and favour ,so that with Timothy, and our ancestors in The Faith we shall:

”Fight the good fight of the faith. (and)Take hold of the eternal life to which you/we were called…”

Toplady

A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing;
Nor fear, with Thy righteousness on, my person and off’ring to bring.
The terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do;
My Saviour’s obedience and blood hide all my transgressions from view.

The work which His goodness began, the arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen, and never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now, nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His purpose forgo, or sever my soul from His love.

My name from the palms of His hands eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains, in marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure, as sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure, the glorified spirits in Heav’n.