. . and other special occasions.
[Did you miss last Sunday’s services? They can still be found at Worship Archive – October 11th 2020.]
Sunday Services for Connexion on October 18th 2020:
AUTONOMY CELEBRATIONS SERVICE: 43rd Anniversary
Theme: “Willing Church – a waiting world”
Sunday Services from Hillside Circuit for October 18th 2020:
Theme: You belong to God
[Click or tap on a Bible reference above to jump down the page to the Bible reading to listen and/or read it for yourself and then click or tap on Back to top to come back here.]
Here are the songs for Sunday morning service. Click or tap on a song to open it in YouTube or go to the Songs for worship webpage to find them embedded.
Great is Thy faithfulness.
When peace like a river (It is well with my soul).
As the deer.
You can listen and join in with prayers from the Methodist Service Book, they can be found at the Prayers for worship webpage.
1 Our LORD, you are King!
You rule from your throne above the winged creatures,
as people tremble and the earth shakes.
2 You are praised in Zion, and you control all nations.
3 Only you are God! And your power alone,
so great and fearsome, is worthy of praise.
4 You are our mighty King, a lover of fairness,
who sees that justice is done everywhere in Israel.
5 Our LORD and our God, we praise you
and kneel down to worship you, the God of holiness!
6 Moses and Aaron were two of your priests.
Samuel was also one of those who prayed in your name,
and you, our LORD, answered their prayers.
7 You spoke to them from a thick cloud,
and they obeyed your laws.
8 Our LORD and our God, you answered their prayers
and forgave their sins,
but when they did wrong, you punished them.
9 We praise you, LORD God,
and we worship you at your sacred mountain.
Only you are God!
12 Moses said to the LORD, “I know that you have told me to lead these people to the land you promised them. But you have not told me who my assistant will be. You have said that you are my friend and that you are pleased with me. 13 If this is true, let me know what your plans are, then I can obey and continue to please you. And don’t forget that you have chosen this nation to be your own.”
14 The LORD said, “I will go with you and give you peace.”
15 Then Moses replied, “If you aren’t going with us, please don’t make us leave this place. 16 But if you do go with us, everyone will know that you are pleased with your people and with me. That way, we will be different from the rest of the people on earth.”
17 So the LORD told him, “I will do what you have asked, because I am your friend and I am pleased with you.”
18 Then Moses said, “I pray that you will let me see you in all of your glory.”
19 The LORD answered:
All right. I am the LORD, and I show mercy and kindness to anyone I choose. I will let you see my glory and hear my holy name, 20 but I won’t let you see my face, because anyone who sees my face will die. 21 There is a rock not far from me. Stand beside it, 22 and before I pass by in all of my shining glory, I will put you in a large crack in the rock. I will cover your eyes with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back. You will not see my face.
1 Thessalonians 1
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church in Thessalonica, the people of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that God will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
2 We thank God for you and always mention you in our prayers. Each time we pray, 3 we tell God our Father about your faith and loving work and about your firm hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
4 My dear friends, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you to be his people. 5 When we told you the good news, it was with the power and assurance that come from the Holy Spirit, and not simply with words. You knew what kind of people we were and how we helped you. 6 So, when you accepted the message, you followed our example and the example of the Lord. You suffered, but the Holy Spirit made you glad.
7 You became an example for all the LORD’S followers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 And because of you, the LORD’S message has spread everywhere in those regions. Now the news of your faith in God is known all over the world, and we don’t have to say a thing about it. 9 Everyone is talking about how you welcomed us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God. 10 They also tell how you are waiting for his Son Jesus to come from heaven. God raised him from death, and on the day of judgment Jesus will save us from God’s anger.
15 The Pharisees got together and planned how they could trick Jesus into saying something wrong. 16 They sent some of their followers and some of Herod’s followers to say to him, “Teacher, we know that you are honest. You teach the truth about what God wants people to do. And you treat everyone with the same respect, no matter who they are. 17 Tell us what you think! Should we pay taxes to the Emperor or not?”
18 Jesus knew their evil thoughts and said, “Why are you trying to test me? You show-offs! 19 Let me see one of the coins used for paying taxes.” They brought him a silver coin, 20 and he asked, “Whose picture and name are on it?”
21 “The Emperor’s,” they answered.
Then Jesus told them, “Give the Emperor what belongs to him and give God what belongs to God.” 22 His answer surprised them so much that they walked away.
Text version of message for Hillside Circuit on October 18th 2020 in English, with Mr Ivan Chigwada:
Our theme for the day which comes from Psalm 99, Exodus 33:12-23, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 and Matthew 22:15-22 is ’You belong to God.’ If someone were to walk up to you and say Mr or Mrs X do you know that ‘you belong to God’ would that surprise you? How would you respond to such? Would you respond in excitement or would that revive memories of some really nasty incident experienced in your past Christian life. If your conduct exudes joy that would be well and good but if it shows sadness then you could do with the encouragement ‘You belong to God!’ But who really belongs to God? An example is the members of the Christian Church at Thessalonika among whom was evidence of the power of God! The same could not be said of the lot at Sodom who were labelled heathen of the heathens? How is this, and how does it happen?
The answer to this question lies in Exodus 33 v 19 and 20 which we have just read from and have to look at as part of today’s sermon. ‘And the LORD said ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,’ He said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see my face and live.’ Now let us read Exodus 33 v 11 ‘The LORD would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.’ These words which appear to speak to opposing positions are contained in the one chapter of the one book of Exodus. The LORD God whose face may not be seen is the very one who used to talk face to face with Moses as one talking to his friend! AAH! I know that many of us, me included, may find the Christian faith a real struggle – and are sorely tried during the most difficult times in our lives. Certainty in faith would be wonderful. But it isn’t the experience that most of us have, unfortunately… Instead, most of us struggle in a sort of in-between place: we know God is real, and we know the Christian faith is true but the experience of our lives means that, often, we are left clinging on by our fingertips instead of living in that deep down joy and confidence that we think is the common experience of everyone else.
Good people let us for the time being leave this greyish area as we go on to look at other issues. This is not the only hard part of belief. When Moses was confronted by a near riotous mob at the Red Sea, and the same mob totally lost it at Mount Horeb, he was struck by awe and had to ask God, ‘You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people, but you have not let me know whom you will send with me.’ God had told Moses ‘I will send an angel before you and drive out the…’ The journey with God is never easy, the Christian life is no less tragic either, so when you see the Abrahams and Moses of this world questioning God, they will have come to their wits end. Moses had just been commissioned to lead Israel and here he was being tried and tested to the point of assuming God had left him. Christian when you come to such times as Moses’ do not despair, when tragedy arises, when the paradoxes of this world come up, get up and go to God with your questions, He has ears to listen and answers to give and one of His answers is, “In your journey with me ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’”
When God calls some to serve Him, is the future of the called clear to them, will they be free from pain and suffering? No, pain and suffering will be their lot and death too can be added on top. BUT this is no indication that they no longer belong to God. In bewilderment Moses continues his quest before God ‘If you are pleased with me teach me your ways so that I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.’ At 32 v 7 God said to Moses ‘Go down, because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt.’ Now I am thrilled in the change in God’s answer to Moses. ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Amen! All of Moses’ fears and reservations must have melted and further questions from him were now a mere of stroking his ego. These words spoken to Moses apply to you, they are invaluable and handy, hold onto them in your journey with God.
Before moving away from the Exodus story let us return to God last words in our passage. ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not be seen.’ God says ‘when my glory passes I will cover you with my hand until I have passed.’ So God makes promises to us that he will be with us – but he won’t let us actually see him or physically experience him! How frustrating it is! How damn annoying it is!! No this is not the end whilst God doesn’t make it implicit here, there is something that he says which gives us a chunk of light in our darkness. OK, it doesn’t wipe our problems out, it doesn’t take all our problems away. But maybe it gives us just enough to hold onto a little longer and so keep us trusting in God that the future really does contain hope. There is one phrase used twice in verse 22 that leads us to a better place of understanding: “While my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.” Twice in this verse, God uses the idea of him ‘passing by’ Moses. And then, even more clearly in verse 23: “Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back”. Now it seems to me that God is teaching us a very important principle here for when we are struggling in life, which is this: We cannot see God when He is here, but we will recognise Him when He has passed by. We cannot see the face of God, but we can see His back. The truth is, when we are in a dark time in our lives, we may not be able to see God – but we can only ever know Him by His past deeds, by His past acts. We can know God’s faithfulness to us in the present day as we learn to look back on our lives and think through how He has always been faithful to us in the past. We can be sure that God will not leave us alone now as we learn to look back on our lives and think through how He never deserted us before when we were in times of difficulty. I now understand why the MCZ Church leaders introduced the concept of testimonies in Sunday worship. We need to see God from behind and recall what He has done for us.
From another angle as a people of weak hearts can we stand and stomach God at work. I doubt it in fact the mere sight might kill us in the real sense. Can you imagine what would have happened had the angel of death taken all of Israel to watch the killing of the first born of Egypt? Would any have remained to follow Moses, would some not have died out of fear and would those remaining alive not have run away in all directions with some ending in Zimbabwe? The face of God may not be seen after all!
Sportspersons love to be cheered on for it is good. You and I need it! Paul encourages the Christians at Thessalonika by recalling the evidence of their faith in Christ. Their conduct revealed genuine love, which made Paul acknowledge that these believers indeed belonged to God. Their belief brought persecution from the Jews and Gentiles they lived with yet their faith was not shaken. Today there is a brand of Christians which believes that persecution is not their lot. The moment persecution comes to such their faith crumbles. The way of the Christian includes persecution, and believers who know this will not run or abandon their faith when confronted with trouble and tribulation.
The persecution of Christians is the work of the Devil and not of mortals. In Matthew we see the Pharisees who despised the rule of Rome, joining hands with Herodians, the supporters of King Herod who ruled Israel on behalf of Rome. Incredible! It is only the Devil who joins enemies to fight his wars. ‘Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ They asked Jesus who plainly told them that humans were always subject to the rule of two sovereign authorities. The first are the political authorities whose laws including taxation must be obeyed or one is dragged before the courts of the land to answer for that and be sentenced appropriately. Undisturbed living is in adhering to laws of the land. Over the rule of the political powers there is the rule of God. Each and every one of us is under the rule of God and as with the other rulers while we may ignore God’s rules, a day shall come when we shall stand before His court to give an account and be sentenced based on our actions and conduct. Those who shall claim to belong to God, must reveal in their conduct that indeed they belong to God. It is among those who belong to Him that God passes dispensing His mercy and compassion. He does not pass them by for as He passes He blesses and proceeds to hide them in the cleft of the Rock called Jesus Christ where no harm shall befall them. In the cleft of that Rock is rest which is given to those that walk with the LORD who unequivocally says “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” Come into His Presence and get that rest. Today Hillside Circuit decided to conduct worship particularly with the elderly in mind. We are all aware of Youth Week now it is the Seniors Week. Abraham was called by God when he was over the age of 80. So was Moses! That was deliberate and not accidental. I recall Jesus healing Peter’s mother in law so she could attend to him and his disciples she was no spring chicken by then. God has his purpose for the seniors in His church. The elderly among us are a reservoir of the life with God, emulate their example.
From your preacher Ivan Chigwada be blessed. In the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen!