Sunday 8th November

Service Transcript & Video

In times of National crisis and despair, we do NOT fear because we have a GOD who still hears and answers prayer…                                                      Psalm 46

You listen to the news and see what’s happening all around us and you can’t help get the feeling that we are slipping deeper and deeper into a national crisis… 

Winter looms and the Hospitals are already stretched to full capacity as this 2nd Wave of Covid hits us…

And to-day on Remembrance Sunday which is itself… a very poignant and deeply emotional day full of ‘sacred memories’ for so many people… 

We reflect back on previous generations and their struggles … as well as contemplating present on- going conflicts and challenges… with all their heartbreak and pain.

It seems like we are at that Crossroads once again as a Nation… 

that the situation is so desperate that the only HOPE we have is … if … we would only turn back to GOD .. in repentance and in prayer.

Not just as individuals…  but as a nation and as nations who have overwhelmingly …

turned our backs on the One True Living GOD of the Bible..

And turned away from… HIS WORDS..  HIS Commands… HIS HEART… HIS WAYS… morally, ethically, socially, sexually..

King George V1 in desperation called the Nation to a Day of Prayer and Repentance on Sun 26th May 1940 before the flotilla of 860 boats of all shapes and sizes…  left England for the shores of France….  in a desperate bid to try and rescue the besieged and beleaguered soldiers who were trapped by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk.

The estimates were that they might possibly rescue at best… 30,000 men…. 

But in the mercy of GOD… some 338,000 were rescued and brought back safely…. across the Channel..      x10 the No.

No wonder those days were referred to as  ‘the miracle of Dunkirk’…. 

It seems to me that many Christian believers…  and I include myself in this… have lost something of 

the urgency of intercessory prayer…

the power of united, corporate praying as a group of believers…

the extra-ordinary, supernatural… truly miraculous ways in which our gracious Loving GOD still hears and still answers prayer…

when a church.. 

a community.. 

a nation…  comes together before HIM…  in United, believing, expectant Prayer and Repentance

 

I think I’ve said it to myself and to you many, many times..

 

A Nation that is on it’s knees in DESPAIR…  Needs a church on it’s KNEES in PRAYER..

 

Of course there are numerous passages we could turn to that emphasize that to us…

Let me briefly just turn with you to two passages

  1. Nehemiah 1v1 – 11
  2. Psalm 46

 

Nehemiah 1v 1-11

I love Nehemiah’s heart and passion…

 He is living some 800 mls/1200Klms from Jerusalem… it would have been so easy for him to feel detached… distant… unmoved!

 Well… it’s Not affecting Me and my family…

But He is the very opposite…

When Nehemiah hears of the despair and the hopelessness of Jerusalem and it’s people…   He is absolutely devastated and heart broken.. v4.

It seems to me that we have No real idea of the immense struggles and the pressures for staff in the Hospitals… 

or the devastation of losing 700 jobs like the people of Larne this week… 

or the vast amounts of money the government is pouring into the nation to try and prop it up…  it’s mind blowing..

or the pain of watching someone you love being taken away in an ambulance to hospital with covid and Not being able to be with them in their last days..

The situation is desperate… But … we aren’t!!

Nehemiah feels for his people deeply and is thrown up GOD in fasting…  prayer and intercession…for his people and his Nation. 

(v4) for some days… probably up to 4 months…

Look at Nehemiah’s prayer..

His grasp of the greatness…the Majesty  and the covenant goodness of GOD v5-6

His identification with His people in their sin and failure v6-7

I… myself… my father’s house…    v7    We…     we…

He’s confessing His sins and the sins of his people.. 

LORD..  I (v6) …  We (v7) ….  am part of the problem…

It’s NOT just that our Nation has turned away from GOD.. from His Word…   HIS Ways and His laws..

We too.. as God’s church.. God’s people… God’s sons and daughters.. are part of the problem of this NATION…. OUR Nation.. 

We confess that We have sinned and We broken God’s heart as well… and what is needed in the land is..

 National confession of sin.. National Repentance and national Prayer…

V8-10 Nehemiah reminds God of His covenant Promises… because GOD is a Covenant keeping GOD… and Nehemiah throws Himself and His people on the Promises of GOD’s WORD… No matter how far we have strayed away from GOD.. there is always a way home.. a way back… a way to return.. 

            It is called REPENTANCE….onto LIFE!!

V10-11 Nehemiah’s Prayer is NOT just about himself and his people.. their brokenness and pain…

At a far greater level it is a Prayer driven by a passion for the glory, honour and praise of GOD’s Name and Glory…

YOUR servants.. YOUR people… YOU..

It’s All about YOU LORD… It’s all FOR YOU.. TO YOU… about YOU…  for God alone is worthy…

It’s back to this…

A Nation that is on it’s knees in DESPAIR…  Needs a church on it’s KNEES in PRAYER..

The greatest Need in NI is for US as the church to be on our knees…

in Confession of OUR sins and in personal and collective Repentance of OUR failures..…

 as we turn our hearts away from OUR sins and back to the LORD who has saved us and  loves us through Jesus..

And I love the promises of GOD’s Word in Psalm 46 in the midst of National chaos and global catastrophe…

 

Turn to it for a few minutes…

 

Psalm 46v1

GOD is….  Present tense… here .. NOW… To-day… in our times of desperation… in this present Crisis…

OUR Refuge…  

a refuge is an external place of safety and security….

Our refuge.. is Not a place.. it’s a Person whom we run to… It’s in Christ that we find God’s Peace and Protection… Safety and Security….. in the storms of life..

And strength… 

Strength is an inner resource to cope with the outside pressures that threaten to overwhelm us..

“Be strong in the LORD and in HIS mighty power.”

                                                                  Ephesians 6 v 10

An ever present HELP in trouble..

Always there.. Always available… Always enough… More than enough… for whatever You are facing…. However tough the challenges… however frightening the enemy.

Q. Don’t You just love the Presence of GOD… in worship.. in prayer… Not just individually.. but collectively.. Nationally…

in the darkest days… in the toughest Nights…

 

Therefore … if this GOD is… OUR GOD… and if this GOD is FOR us and NOT against us… 

then…

we will NOT fear… We will NOT be afraid… in times of National Crisis and despair..

Tell Me..

Q. What is it that makes YOU afraid.. ??

Q. What is it that keeps YOU awake at night… that You most fear??

Though…v3 

even though..  the two things that are immovable… the earth and the mountains…

Are shaken… give way…  fall into… collapse down all around us… and lie shattered in pieces before us..

 

The picture the psalmist is painting is…. 

Of times in our world

When everything in your life…  that YOU always thought of as so secure.. so strong.. so unshakable.. so immovable…

Begin to …. collapse … cave in …. come crashing down all around you… v2 

The picture is of tsunami like upheaval … chaos… earthquake… violent seas that crash and shake the very mountains in our world…

Mountains are the things that we always thought of as totally immovable…  unshakable… untouchable… indestructible….

 are being shaken to their VERY roots..

Q. Does that NOT describe the chaos and the uncertainty that we have been plunged into…   by our Covid 19 world…

Q. Who would ever have thought that pubs, clubs, churches, restaurants, airports and whole economies of our world’s greatest nations would be shut down…

 by a Virus.. that would affect the whole world…???

BUT then comes the Promise of a Sovereign… Almighty GOD…  who is OVER ALL … who is GREATER than ALL…. Who is MIGHTIER than ALL…. 

Who is enthroned as KING above this restless turbulent chaotic world… and ALL the nations in total turmoil..

V 4-11 In the midst of this chaos… comes this picture of HOPE… this hidden source of Strength and LIFE and HOPE for God’s City Jerusalem…  God’s people under siege from their enemies.. raging and roaring against them..

V5 GOD…is within us…God Living within us by His Holy Spirit…. GOD here to HELP… as we face a NEW day… after the darkness of the NIGHT…

Though all around us we see a world in turmoil… crisis… fractured… angry… fearful…. Broken…

 (v6)  We are at peace…. Secure in knowing that GOD is GOD and WHEN HE speaks… the earth melts in fear… such is the power of HIS voice.. 

v7-11  The reason for our PEACE and HOPE … our security and certainty…. 

is rooted in WHO GOD is… and In WHO WE are…. His church.. HIS family… His sons and daughters… 

Saved by HIS amazing grace and goodness… 

Kept by HIS amazing grace and power…

Trusting in His Presence with us always…(v7 & v11) through anything and through everything that lies ahead for us … this coming Winter… individually… Nationally… Globally…

Q. As our Nation faces this time of unprecedented chaos and despair…. Will you pick up the challenge to come before GOD on behalf of our land… in Repentance and in Prayer?

Q. Will YOU trust GOD as you face the challenges before us this Winter… refusing to give way to your fears but determined to grow in faith and love as You follow JESUS CHRIST AS Saviour and LORD through all the trial and troubles of your life.

 

 

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