4th Sunday in Lent – Sermon 157

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 –

A day when we give thanks to God for the one person – who has generally had the greatest impact on our lives –

Not only do mothers help to bring us into the world – they also provide us with our first impressions of God’s love –

Mothering Sunday – is a day too – when we give thanks to God for our Mother church – a source of support – and reassurance of the presence – and love of Jesus Christ-

Someone once said that – “Mothers are the glue that holds the family together.”

Our families and the love they provide are part of the things we are and do – and without them we would feel lost and alone

But when things really do get tough – and the props we depend on throughout our lives – give way – who do we turn to then? – lets see if our readings can help us –  

First Point      living in moral devastation


The First few verses of our OT reading – remind us what its like to live in a climate of moral devastation – when we can no longer rely on the support of those around us –

Micah – a contemporary of Isaiah – aimed his prophecies – at the leaders of Jerusalem – but his chief concern – was the morality of the people –

Micah’s message is one that alternates between oracles of doom and hope –

He paints a picture of darkness across the land – of corruption at all levels – one in which – the fabric of families and communities – has broken down –

‘All who wait lie in wait to murder – each one hunts his kninsman with a net’

‘Put no trust in neighbour, no confidence in a close friend – Seal your lips – even now from your wife whom you love’

Micah was depressed about the the people’s attitude and their behaviour towards God – and the fact that no body was listening to him –

He describes the situation as living – within ‘ the last gatherings of the summer fruit’ – when the best has been selected – and all around him is barren and picked clean –

For Micah – getting God’s message across – was a real struggle –

Tony Hobbs – a Scripture Union writer – likens his situation to one – of plodding through deep snow – with the wind whipping a blizzard in your face –

Giving up isn’t a serious option – and Spring seems impossibly far away – so all he can do is hang on – and keep on going-

James too gives us a picture of moral devastation – but of a different kind – one in which – silver and gold have corroded –

where – those who have – have kept it – and those who have not – have never seen it –

or – as one comedian puts it – ‘If money talks – all it ever says to me is good-bye"

James tells – those – who have lived on the land in wanton luxury – and gorged themselves – that their riches are rotting away –

‘You have piled up wealth in an age – that is near to its close’ – he says – ‘you have condemned and murdered the innocent one – who offers no resistance’

He warns of the folly – of gaining wealth through injustice

whatever you accumulate – deteriorates – God’s wealth is to be used for eternal values – not for our own purposes – you either use it – or you lose it –

Both Micah and James – make it clear that its up to each one of us – to choose which God we serve – The challenge is not only to recognize the choice, but to choose the God who will never fail us –

Dependent on our own resources – and we might cry out– ‘Woe is me’ – dependent on God – we can begin to hope-  

Point 2     The fruits of life in Jesus


The people of Micah’s time – may have turned their back on God – but God hadn’t turned His back on them –

God made a promise – to His people –
to forgive sins – to show mercy – to those who show faithfulness – and to rescue them –

If we are prepared to turn back to God’s ways – He will do some amazing things for us –

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 like 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, castinThe fruits of life in Jesusg 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

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

James calls them to stop trusting their earthly hoards – and trust in God and His church – and James gives us 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” –

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 –

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 –

prayer is an integral part of our relationship with God – and the most powerful weapon we have against the world and its ways – we should all pray – as we can – and when ever – and where ever we see a need –

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

A Christian mother – was having problems with her rebellious teenager – he was a lazy bad tempered cheat – a liar and a thief – Later on- although outwardly – a well respected lawyer – his life was dominated by ambition – and a desire to make money – He lived with different women and had a son by one of them – at one stage he joined a weird religious sect- and adopted all kinds of strange practices –

Throughout this time – his mother continued to pray for him – One day she was given a vision – and she wept as she prayed – because she could see the light of Jesus Christ in him – and his face transformed – she had to wait another nine years before her son gave his life to Jesus Christ – at the age of thirty-two.

That man’s name was Augustine – and he went on to become one of the greatest theologians in the church – He has always attributed his conversion to the prayers of his mother –  







we all struggling against the storms of life – and need to realize that we are much stronger in Christ – than we are on our own –

Sometimes its only when things really – get out of hand – that we realise how important God’s love is to us – and how transforming His power can really be-

On mothers day we – express our love – by giving flowers and a card or present – or a hug – if you’ve followed our ‘Love life-love Lent’ booklet – in appreciation for the love we have been given –

As Christians – God too wants us to show His love in action – through His church – to stand firm – despite the circumstances – and depend on Jesus as our rescuer and redeemer –

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 – then – that would truly be something special 


Prayer to Finish

 In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit