Lead us not into Judas’s Temptation

Three quotes which have stirred me in preparation for preaching on Judas’s betrayal of Jesus, John 13.30:

 

Search your heart

“Judas had a dishonest heart, loved the world more than Christ, was more for filling the bag than doing good; and, in oder to fill it, sold even Christ Himself….we cannot search ourselves too thoroughly. All our hearing, reading, and praying, all is to us unprofitable, if there be an evil root within.”

Thomas Charles, Spiritual Counsels, 1784

Seek out grace

“If you will not do as Judas did, nor come to such an end as he did, take heed you live not unprofitably under the means of grace. Judas had the best means of grace that ever man enjoyed. He heard Christ himself preach, he joined often with him in prayer, but he was never the better for it all; it was but as the watering of a dead stick, which will never make it grow, but rot it the sooner. Never was there a rotten branch so richly watered as he was. O it is a sad sign and a sad sin too, when men and women live under the gospel from year to year, and are never the better. I warn you to beware of these evils, all you that profess religion. Let these footsteps by which Judas went down to his own place, terrify you from following him in them.”

John Flavel, The Fountain of Life, Sermon 23, 1671

 

Satan works his strategy slowly

“Then hath the tempter come upon me also with such discouragements as these: “You are very hot for mercy, but I will cool you; this frame shall not last always. Many have been as hot as you for a time, but I have quenched their zeal;” and with this, such and such who were fallen off would be set before mine eyes. Then I would be afraid that I should do so too; but, thought I, I am glad this comes into my mind. Well, I will watch, and take what care I can. “Though you do,” said Satan, “I shall be too hard for you. I will cool you insensibly, by degrees, by little and little. What care I,” saith he, “though I be seven years in chilling thy heart, if I can do it at last? Continual rocking will lull a crying child asleep. I will ply it close, but I will have my end accomplished. Though you be burning hot at present, I can pull you from this fire. I shall have you cold before it be long.””

John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, 1666

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Get Away

This weekend is Hope’s annual away weekend. We say it’s ‘away’, but we manage to go three miles out of town, and don’t even stay there overnight. We always have a brilliant time, with fun, food, ministry and friendships: the simple, essential things in church life, which are also the best.

Tonight we’ll have fish and chips, we’ll sing and have a short sermon. Then we’re back on Saturday for a full day, with two ministry sessions followed by an afternoon of activities and then an evening BBQ. After that it’s testimonies, then quizzes and fun before a short word to wrap everything up. On Sunday we’ll be back at our normal venue for worship.

We’ve had the great and the good ministering to us in our years as a church so far. The first year we did much of it in-house, and had Mick Lockwood from Haworth join us. Then we had David Robertson from Dundee, Paul Gamston from South Craven, and last year welcomed Mez McConnell from Edinburgh. This weekend we’re looking forward to having Andy Paterson, Mission Director at the FIEC, preach for us. Each year we have the core of the church come along, as well as lots who are new to the church, and often new to the Gospel. On a church away weekend a few years ago a couple publicly professed faith for the first time. In God’s goodness we always have a great time.

 

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Brilliant times at Blackley…

 

Why have the church weekends worked so far?

Firstly, we keep it very cheap. We don’t want the haves to be able to afford to come whilst the have-nots can’t, and don’t.
Secondly, we pursue fun. The programme isn’t packed, and we make plenty of time to laugh and relax together.
Thirdly, we pursue grace. We’re serious about listening to the Word. We pray, we praise, we enjoy grace together, and we hear of grace through testimonies.
Fourthly, we just get to know and enjoy each other. We are church, after all!

We don’t do anything that hundreds of churches won’t be doing this spring and summer. It’s all very ordinary. But by God’s magnificent grace, it works, and we love it!