After the death of Saul, 2 Samuel 1:1-11 tells us that David was crowned King of Judah. Judah and not yet all Israel. After years on the run from Saul and with the promise of God in his mind that he would one day become King of the whole nation, how David responded to this next step is informative. Was he going to be a King who would take control of the nation by force or was he going to be a King who relied upon God to establish him? And what of the rival king, Ish-bosheth, son of Saul? Again, how David responded would be crucial!
The book of 2 Samuel continues the story of 1 Samuel, where in chapter 31, King Saul met a grisly end by his own hand. 2 Samuel opens with the news of Saul’s death reaching King-elect David. It may be that the news-bearer presented the report on Saul’s death to David in the hope of some reward, but all it achieved was distress and grief to David and a swift execution for the news-bearer! Why such a response from David? And why such distress? And why such a poetic lament for Saul after all that Saul did for David? And what can we learn from David’s response to the news of Saul’s death?
Guest speaker, Rev. Ian Brown, preached from Psalm 51. King David was slow to recognise his sin (2 Samuel 11) until confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12) but some never do – and deceive themselves (1 John 1). David repents before God who is both just and merciful – sin is dealt with through Jesus (Romans 3:23-26). What is our response to God forgiving our sin?
Guest speaker, Rev. Len Pearce spoke from Galatians 2-3 about how the Christian’s life is not just changed but exchanged. Not one of us is perfect yet there is no other way to stand before God: the Christian is justified by Christ; we exchange our sin for his perfect righteousness. We receive these benefits by God’s Spirit through faith. This is the heart of the gospel. Yet we don’t know the length of our days – be sure that you know Jesus as we get closer to eternity.
Guest speaker, Jordan Brown, a student at PTC, preached from Daniel 8. We can take heart because God reigns over politics and superpowers, both in empires then and in the world now. Daniel was shaken by the vision he saw of the future and we might be shaken by persecution we face, but we live in a privileged time. Not only can we look back and see the prophecy of Daniel fulfilled but we can see the faithfulness of God even clearly in Jesus. One day every knee will bow before him.
While the world knows the reality of the horror of war, the believer also knows the reality of the battle for holiness. Best laid plans and intentions can so easily be left aside. The Christian life is a paradox. We have been delivered from the penalty of sin, but not yet from the presence of sin. The desires of our own sinful natures and the Holy Spirit are often in conflict. How do we fight this battle? Every believer needs to know that indwelling sin is the problem, that it lives within our hearts, that it deceives our reasoning and ought not be allowed to have control. The key to victory is not found in ourselves but in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit who can and will assist us in this ongoing battle for holiness.
Holiness. It’s often been misunderstood, even by God’s pople. What are we to make of it? For a start, holiness begins with God. He is ‘holy, holy, holy’. Holiness is his chief characteristic and everything about him (his love, his wisdom, his mercy etc.) is holy. Holiness is also defined by Jesus. As he was and is God, we should expect that everything he did was holy, and this was true. Though he hung around with ‘sinners’, his life was holy in every way. Then also, holiness is necessary for believers. It is needed to prove that we know salavtion. It is needed so that we can have fellowship with God. It is needed if we want to be useful to God. Holiness is a path to take, a battle to fight and a desire to be pursued. It begins with God but ought to be seen in his people who are called to be like him in this way.
Guest preacher, Rev Stuart Withers (Rochester Presbyterian), preached from three main texts in his message on the importance of prayer (Philippians 1:9-11, Romans 15:30-33 and Colossians 4:2-6.). Just as Paul exhorted us to make ‘all kinds of prayers for all the saints’ (Ephesians 6:18), so also in these texts we are reminded that prayer is the key for the encouragement of God’s people, the strengthening of His gospel workers and the means by which unbelievers are brought into the Kingdom of God. Great things happen when God’s people pray!
In the final section of Paul’s letter to Timothy, the Apostle reminded this young pastor of one of the major snares that would entrap the believers at Ephesus – riches. Although it is no sin to be wealthy, those who do enjoy riches face the temptation to give their hearts to their wealth or their material possessions and in so doing, fail to make use of their wealth for God’s glory. Paul therefore instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17-21 to teach the wealthy at Ephesus to beware of the uncertainty of riches, to be generous with their wealth and to see their wealth in the light of eternity, knowing that everything belonging to this world will be destroyed at the end of the age. It is possible to be godly and wealthy, but to do that God must always come before wealth. To do otherwise is to fail to be faithful stewards of all that God has given His people to enjoy.
The first part of Paul’s concluding statements to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:11-16 address Timothy directly. the whole letter was written for his benefit, this section would leave Timothy in no doubt as to how he should go about the task that was a ahead of him. The section of text centres around 5 commands that Timothy ought to put into practice and all these commands are reminscent of language that might be employed by a senior army officer to a junior. The commands are ‘flee’ (sin), ‘pursue’ (godliness), ‘take hold’ (of eternal life), ‘fight’ (the good fight) and ‘keep’ (the commandment). Paul also called upon two witnesses, the Lord Jesus and God the Father, in making this solemn and urgent charge to Timothy. God’s people may feel as though the fight is wearying and hard, but we are not to ‘lay down arms’ until death or until Jesus returns.