Home Service 19

Home Service: Sunday 2 May 2021 ~ Theme: “I am with you”

Call to worship
The last time Jesus met with His disciples before His Ascension He made a marvellous promise recorded in Matthew 28:20. “And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” A similar promise can be found in various places in the Bible. The writer of Psalm 139 evidently knew it and treasured the knowledge of God’s presence with him and the idea that he was in God’s thoughts. “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” Those last words inspired our first song and remind us that He is also still with us.

Song

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.
Still, still to Thee as to each new-born morning
A fresh and solemn splendour still is given.
So does this blessed consciousness awaking
Breathe each day nearness unto Thee and heaven
So shall it be at last, in that bright morning
When the soul waketh, and life’s shadows flee;
Oh, in that hour, fairer than daylight’s dawning,
Shall rise the glorious thought, I am with Thee!


One of the Bible passages telling of God’s promise to be with His people is in the book of Isaiah. Originally addressed to the people of Israel, all God’s people may take comfort from it.
Reading: Isaiah 43:1-5a
But now, this is what the Lord says – He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

Prayer of thanks
O God our Father, you have given us so much. The whole of creation speaks of your greatness and power and yet
you love us one by one. Thank you that may come to you, not in fear, but assurance of your love. Thank you for revealing your love in Jesus and all He did for us. Father, we are so undeserving and at times, wayward, and yet your love remains sure. Receive our thanks and please draw us nearer to you. Amen

Song

Worthy, O worthy are You, Lord,
Worthy to be thanked and praised
And worshipped and adored.

Worthy, O worthy are You, Lord,
Worthy to be thanked and praised
And worshipped and adored.

Singing, Hallelujah, Lamb upon the throne,
We worship and adore You,
make Your glory known.
Hallelujah, glory to the King:
You’re more than a conqueror,
You’re Lord of everything.

Prayers of intercession
Jesus said “But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.” (Matthew 6: 6 GNT)
Father, I bring to you,
family members…
friends…
colleagues…
and those I do not know, but know of…
In your mercy hear my prayer and those of your people as we look at the world around us. Amen

Let’s continue our prayers with this song of Graham Kendrick
Song

Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair,
Lord, in your suffering this is our prayer.
Bread for the children, justice, joy, peace.
Sunrise to sunset Your kingdom increase!
Shelter for fragile lives, cures for their ills.
Work for the craftsman, trade for their skills.
Land for the dispossessed, rights for the weak.
Voices to plead the cause of those who can’t speak.
God of the poor, friend of the weak

Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love from a spark to a flame.
Rest for the ravaged earth, oceans and streams.
Plundered and poisoned our future, our dreams.
Lord, end our madness carelessness, greed.
Make us content with the things that we need.
God of the poor, friend of the weak…

Knowing the presence of God is a wonderful thing but it is possible not to recognise He really is with us. This account tells of a remarkable occasion when this occurred to two people who knew Jesus well.
Reading: Luke 24: 13-31 (GNT)
…two of Jesus’ followers were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking to each other about all the things that had happened. As they talked and discussed, Jesus himself drew near and walked along with them; they saw him, but somehow did not recognize him. Jesus said to them, “What are you talking about to each other, as you walk along?” They stood still, with sad faces. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have been happening there these
last few days?” “What things?” he asked. “The things that happened to Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “This man was a prophet and was considered by God and by all the people to be powerful in everything he said and did. Our chief priests and rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and he was crucified. And we had hoped that he would be the one who was going to set Israel free! Besides all that, this is now the third day since it happened. Some of
the women of our group surprised us; they went at dawn to the tomb but could not find his body. They came back saying they had seen a vision of angels who told them that he is alive. Some of our group went to the tomb and found it exactly as the women had said, but they did not see him.” Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are, how slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and then to enter his glory?” And Jesus explained to them what was said about himself in all the Scriptures, beginning with the books of Moses and the writings of all the prophets. As they came near the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther; but they held him back, saying, “Stay with us; the day is almost over, and it is getting dark.” So, he went in to stay with them. He sat down to eat with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight.

Reflection
This fascinating story tells of two people who really were with Jesus, but it took a surprisingly long time for them to realise it. Their walk of seven miles might have taken two to three hours, surely long enough in such close company with Jesus to have recognised Him! What patience Jesus showed as He walked and talked with them. How often and how easily have we been like them, so occupied with our own thoughts and feelings that we missed the plain truth that He is with us. The promise that He will never leave us, is repeated in the Epistle to the Hebrews 13:5. “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ This is a word offered to all, not just a privileged few. The famous Baptist preacher of the 19 th century, Charles Spurgeon, often referred to this text in his sermons and his exposition of it is striking. He says of the verse, “…our translation does not convey the whole force of the original, and that it would hardly be possible in English to give the full weight of the Greek. We might render it, “He hath said, I will never, never leave thee; I will never, never, never forsake thee.”
The message could not be made any clearer. Regardless of our varying perceptions and recognition, God is with us. Knowing that can change everything and the message is reinforced in the words of our final song.

Song

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled
Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand
When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

Blessing

May God keep us in the palm of His hand. May we allow Him to mould us into what He wants us to be. May we joyfully fill the role he has given to us and may we feel His peace in our souls.