4th Sunday in Lent – Sermon 111

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



Today is a special day for mothers and families –

Its also a time to give thanks for our Mother church – and all that God’s family means to us –

Our church family is equally important – not only as a source of support – but also – as a constant reassurance of the presence – and love of God –

The families we belong to and love are important to us – they are part of the things we are and do –without them we would feel very lost and alone

Our readings this evening give us two contrasting images – of life outside the church – and what it means to live in the fellowship of Jesus – we are going to look at each one – to see which one reflects the way we want to live –


First Point


Our OT lesson tells of the time – when the fabric of families and communities – had broken down – and there was corruption at all levels in society

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah – and he like Isaiah – he aimed his prophecies – at the leaders of Jerusalem – It was a message that was vitally important to the people of God – and one that alternates between oracles of doom and hope –

First he gives us a vision of the darkness in the land

“The faithful have vanished from the Lord, not one honest person is to be found”

“The people are bent on wrong – their goodness is twisted like rank weeds and their honesty like briar”

“Put no trust in neighbour – no confidence in close friends – seal your lips even from your wife whom you love”

“Son maligns father, daughter rebels against mother, daughter in law against mother in law – a persons enemies are found under his own roof”

Micah compares himself to a summer fruit – left in the fields – after harvest time – all around him is barren and picked clean – ahead of him is the scorching summer heat – when any remaining fruit will quickly ripen – and dry out

But – even in this climate – there is still hope –

The people may have turned their back on God – but God hasn’t turned His back on them –

He reminds them that God is right where they left Him – waiting for them to turn to Him – in repentance

God made a promise – to His people –
He will forgive sins – He will be merciful – and those who show faithfulness will be rescued –

If His people are prepared to turn back to Him – He will do some amazing things for them –

Too often we think our salvation is in the balance – saved but still in sin – saved but the power of evil still rules – saved but we don’t feel it –

Micah’s vision reminds us that even for the times when we feel like fruit that has lost its sweetness – we can still return to a life of love and peace with Jesus –

“Once more you will show us the compassion and wash away our guilt, casting all our sins into the depths of the sea”

God can only mould those he has melted – if we want our relationship with Him to grow stronger – we have to let Jesus break and rebuild us – so that we can truly feel His love and presence in our lives


Point 2     The fruits of life in Jesus


 The letter of James is thought to be one of the earliest of Christian writings – written when the church at Jerusalem was no more than a Messianic Synagogue within Judaism –

James’ original audience was the Jewish Christians who had been scattered because of persecution around Jerusalem –

James calls them to trust in God and His church – and gives a whole host of practical instructions on how to go about it –

“ be patient and prayerful – put God first – watch your tongue – love your neighbour as yourself” – no fighting or swearing” – “look after the poor” – to name but a few –

In the first six verses he challenges the people who put their own welfare first –

He warns of the cocooning action of wealth – of trusting in the temporary glitter that money brings

He accuses the landowners of oppressing Christians – and warns them that – if they’ve gained their wealth by committing injustice – what they have will be tarnished – and a witness against them –

James tells us to look out for others in need – he reminds us that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy – and we should be as much like Him as we can –

We live in a society that likes moving a mile a minute – fast food – with fast diet plans – faster computers – instant coffee – microwaves –

Everything at speed – we have “hurry up sickness’ – we no longer believe in the day of rest – because everybody tells us we have no time to rest –

The same pressures are now on our children – in our schools – they are told to do more – be in more – except when it comes to church – we seem to have lost the fruit of patience – and we need to rediscover it – through Jesus –

Patience brings peace – which helps us develop lasting relationships – especially with God –

James tells us that when it comes to trusting God – we must keep Him at the centre of our lives –and remain steadfast in His love –

Many of the Christians in the first century were struggling to do just that – they were expecting – Christ’s second coming – and the delay was causing problems of impatience and misunderstandings –

The farmer plants his seed – but he doesn’t run out into the field everyday to check to see if its growing – he does his best to cultivate it – but once planted he has faith that the seed will grow –

– everything is part of God’s timetable – and purpose – its up to us to make sure God’s seed is planted – but its God who will make it grow –

James tells us that – in times of trouble we should pray – and in times of joy we should praise – He points to the prophets as our guides – they were able to do great things by allowing God to work through them –

Just as Job – is our model of patience – so Elijah is our example of the power of prayer –

James tells us that we must pray believing God will answer us –

In the middle of a really hot summer – and acute water shortage – a minister decided to have a special evening service to prayer for rain – the church was packed – but when the minister came out to greet them at the start of the service – he told them all to go home – not one of them had brought an umbrella – for their journey home

prayer is the most powerful weapon we have against the world and its ways – we should all pray – as we can – and when ever we can – and where ever we see a need – prayer means Power Released At Your Every Request – If Elijah can affect a drought – how much more will prayers from God’s people bring health and salvation for those who need it –

its not the arithematic or the elogance or the theology of our prayers that matters – but its our constant faithfulness in prayer – that will win the day – and unleash the power of God –



Point 3        So what about us?


 So how do we fare in the discipleship stakes?

Do we feel we are like fruit that has lost its sweetness – left behind as God’s work moves on – feel a need to return to a life of holiness and righteousness –

The focus of James passage is on what the church should do in Christ – we are all struggling against the same storms – and need to realize that we are much stronger together in Christ – than we are on our own –

God wants His church – to follow the lead of His Son Jesus Christ – and be committed wholeheartedly to His service –

He’s given us everything we have – what we must do – is thank Him for it – and show Him that we mean it – by the way we live our lives –





On mothers day we make our words special by giving flowers and a card or present – or helping in different ways – we express our love in action – in response to the love we have been given –

As Christians – God too wants us to make our words special – by showing His love in action – through His church –

He commands us to give our whole lives – for His glory – not just once a year – or once a week – but everyday – and if we are prepared to do that – for God – that would truly be something special –  

Prayer to Finish

 In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit