Sunday March 22nd 2020

For Grace Community Church, scattered throughout Tipton and the Black Country, as well as anyone else who is joining us ( ... a really warm welcome to!)

Explaining what's going on (forgive the sound quality - we will get better!)

It really is possible to encourage one another remotely!
This is the first of five Psalms shared with me by text message this week from brothers and sisters at Grace, and it's a great prayer or song of Jesus to pray with Him as we begin:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord,
“He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” [Psalm 91]

I'm not sure we can sing to this. But you might manage! If not, hum along and enjoy praising the Lord and freshly resolving to stand on every promise of His Word.

We've seen in Genesis 17 that God has promised Himself to us through Jesus and, with Abraham, has called us to 'walk before Him and be blameless'. What good news! What promises! So, sing (or hum) and fix your hearts on Him.

Let's Pray Together

Take a moment to turn something(s) from these songs into praise to our Heavenly Father.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. [Psalm 62:1-2]

Take a few moments to pray for ourselves as a church and as Christians. Also for our nation.
Here are some ideas to stimulate us:
1. For calm assurance in God's control of all things in His goodness, grace and for His glorious purposes.
2. For God to drive away our fears and worry.
3. For help to take opportunities to serve others
4. Wisdom for those making decisions within hospitals and in government.
5. For us to be willing to be led by those decisions! For law and order.
6. An advance of the gospel - that people might seek God and turn to Christ.
7. Healing for those affected.

{It won't come as a big surprise that we're not the only ones to pray along these lines. God's people have faced 'pestilence' before.Check out this prayer from a collection of old Presbyterian prayers!:

Holy and Mighty LORD, who didst turn back the angel of the plague from the dwellings of Thy people;
we beseech Thee to hear our cry for those who are suffering and dying under the visitation of disease. Mercifully bless the means which are used to stay the spread of sickness; strength those who labour to heal and comfort the afflicted; support those who are in pain or distress; speedily restore those who have been brought low; and unto all who are beyond healing, grant Thy heavenly consolation and Thy saving grace; through Jesus Christ our LORD. AMEN}

Finally, Donna has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be have treatment within the next weeks. We can thank the Lord that the cancer has been caught and that the medics are trying to treat her quickly even at a time when the NHS is under pressure. Please pray for her healing, for provision of treatment for her and protection from COVID-19 for her and her doctors.

This should begin at Genesis 18:1 but you will need to stop it at the end of the chapter, or otherwise David Suchet will keep going right to the end of Genesis!

Take a moment to reflect on what we've heard.
What is there from Genesis 18
that's encouraged you about Jesus?

that's challenged you about your relationship with Jesus?

that you could share with a non-christian this week if the opportunity presents?

Perhaps you could talk about this together with the person/people you are with now.
Or why not ring/skype or WhatsApp someone to ask them how the Lord has spoken to them and to share what He's pinpointed for you?

NOW thank God for all we've heard from him and pray for His work in us and through us.

As we continue to respond to what God's said to us, let's rejoice ... Our times are in His hands (Psalm 31:15)

If there are two of you, why not alternate saying this together. If it's just one of you ... well, up to you how you feel about speaking out loud to yourself!!

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over us—
the Lord is our shade at our right hand;
the sun will not harm us by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over our coming and going
both now and forevermore.
[adapted from Psalm 121]
where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there
your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you [Psalm 139:7-12]

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