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Main Street Community Church, Frodsham

Loving God
Loving Frodsham

Isaiah 53

Sunday Morning talk given by Tim Coad on

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I haven’t got a PowerPoint this morning so you can relax; sit back, relax, chill out, don’t go to sleep! No, I know, I didn’t mean for a minute that you ever did.

I was going to start doing a little bit – one of the things I want to speak about at some point is I want to look into some of the scriptures about fasting as we’ve talked about prayer but I did kind of allude to that a few weeks ago. And I was going to do something on that this week but in the things, some of the things that God has been speaking into my life recently and I felt, for the Church particularly, I just felt this morning there was a particular word that I want to bring – that sounds big-headed doesn’t it? That I believe God wants to bring to us as a Church Fellowship this morning. Does that make sense?

I really believe this is something that God really gave me just a few weeks ago when I was reading and I really want to share this with you this morning and I want you to take it and to, if you like, chew on it.

While Andy and I were away we made some new friends. We went for a walk yesterday morning in the grounds of the guest house where we were staying and as we clambered up a little bit of a hill and sat on a couple of little benches at the top some black and white young ladies came across to spend some time with us. Have you worked that out yet? Right, okay, there were cows in the field next door and they came across and took a great interest. Andy has got some photographs on his camera, because they took a great interest. They came across and put their heads across the fence but it reminded me of a few years ago when Eunice and I were away, I think with a couple of the kids, and we were in Kettlewell in Yorkshire; I don't suppose Jo remembers, she was probably quite little.

We stayed in a very, very quiet village and I was woken up in the early hours of the morning by a chomping noise and it wasn’t Eunice eating in her sleep; it was a cow in the next field next to our house chewing the cud and chomping away over the grass. And I want you to do that with some of the words hopefully that God will say to us this morning. I want you to take them away. I want you to think them through. I want you to meditate perhaps on the scripture that we are going to look at today and perhaps respond today, perhaps respond on another day, maybe not respond at all. I don’t know but let’s just listen and consider what God is saying to us as a Fellowship.

I want to read to you from Isaiah, Isaiah 53. You will know the passage I am sure but if you’ve got a bible follow it. If not, listen, that’s fine. And I just want to read verses 1 to 6 of Isaiah 53.

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of the dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,”

[There is a break here in the recording as the cassette tape was turned over] ... says Isaiah.

And in many ways this particular passage is a classic isn’t it in the bible? Most of you will at some time in your life have read Isaiah 53 or heard Isaiah 53 read, perhaps at a communion service, but it will have been I think for most of us who have been going to church for any length of time, probably quite familiar.

But basically as I understand it, the message that Isaiah has to the people of Israel; he writes to a people who are chosen to be the people of Yahweh and they are aware of their identity. Isaiah is continuing to remind them of that identity; but they are a people who by their attitude and by their behaviour have rejected and let down Yahweh, the very God who chose them to be his. So they really are not living out the kind of people that God intends them to be; that God has made every provision for them to be.

One of the challenges of the Church, I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, that we hear a lot of people talking about what it means to do church in different kinds of ways of doing church, but really you know what the bible talks about is that we are called to be church. So the people of Israel were not called to do stuff that God had given them to do as the people of God – they were simply called to be the people of God and that meant doing stuff. It meant behaving in a particular way; it meant obedience; it meant a certain kind of lifestyle but primarily they were chosen to be the people of God.

And as you read Isaiah the other thing that comes through forcibly is they weren’t just the people of God for God’s sake, although that was partly true, he wanted them in relationship. They weren’t the people of God just for their own sake but also it comes through again and again in Isaiah that they were to be the people of God for the sake of the other nations too.

Throughout Isaiah you can see that God is calling and wanting to call the other nations to come to him too, to discover who he is through the witness of the people of Israel. And I think one of the pains in God’s heart was that the other nations were not seeing Yahweh because the people of Israel were not living the way they should.

And I do not want in any way anything that we look at this morning make it anyway for us to feel condemned; maybe challenged and maybe thinking, "Well, how can I be more what God wants me to be?"

As I said, sitting with Andy on Friday night in this beautiful lounge in this lovely little B&B we were in we were just talking about aims and goals for the future. What would you – where would you like to be? Where would you like to be going? Where does God want to take us? And in a way I suppose as we head towards yet another year, 2012, that is one of the questions we are going to be asking. Where does God want us to be as individuals and as a Church Fellowship?

We do know that he has called us to be a people of his kingdom, who take his kingdom into Frodsham; to be a people of God, to live as Christians and to live with him and to know him.

Now, of course, when we come to Isaiah Chapter 53, Isaiah is now zeroing in on the way that God is producing a way to allow the people that have so far rejected, although they have gone through the motions, they haven’t really lived the way that God wants them to live. There is going to be a way of putting these things right because the other thing that actually burns through Isaiah as you read it is the incredible love that God still has for those people. His heart burns for them.

They are not the people he wants them to be. They are not going where he wants them to go. They are missing out on so much of the blessing they could receive if only they were living his way. But God says, God continually is saying, “I love you.” And sometimes God is saying through Isaiah, this is going to happen. The nation is going to fall, you are going to go into captivity, this is going to happen and you might be the nation thinking, goodness me! We haven’t got a very good future.

But God comes back time and time again and says, “But this is the future I’ve really got for you. This is the land I’ve got for you. This is the future, this is what I want.” and you can sense God’s heart. And I sense God’s heart for us as a Church Fellowship, for us as Christians – the good things that God wants for us.

But as we come to Isaiah 53, and as we also now have the benefit of the New Testament, which the people hearing Isaiah for the first time didn’t have, of course we realize that this is about the Lord Jesus Christ and surely for us, as Christians, the cross is the very centre of our faith, right at the middle of everything that we believe. The cross is the very centre.

It is quite interesting. I have said to several people this week, since I came back from Jerusalem a year ago and I’ve started wearing the cross, it is really interesting the response you get from that people. And I don’t think yet, unless I’ve forgotten it, I have yet had a negative response from anybody and that is interesting.

The other slightly worrying thing is if you go into hospital, you can go anywhere. You can walk into a ward and they will accept you and one lady came up to me in Warrington Hospital a few weeks ago and she said, “You must know the hospital, you’re obviously part of the hospital.” And I said, “No, I haven’t a clue.” Because she asked me where the Breast Cancer Clinic was and I didn’t have a clue but I was supposed to know because I must be some kind of Minister, I was wearing a cross and I would know. And she got a little bit, wasn’t very happy when I said, “I’m sorry, I know how to find it in Chester Hospital,” which was a useless answer anyway, I realise that. But it was interesting that there is still that respect – it means something. For us, as Christians, it is the absolute centre of our faith.

And again Isaiah wants to say to the people, and wants to say, and is saying to us in Isaiah 53, verse 6, we’ve all gone astray like sheep. We’ve all gone – we are all like sheep who have gone astray.

Where Andy and I were this Friday night and Saturday I think there were more sheep than people; certainly when we sat in the garden there were sheep everywhere and only the four of us in the guest house. But this is, this Isaiah 53 points us to the incarnation, the coming into the world, of Jesus. That though he was and is God he came into the world as a man.

Amazingly as John says in John, chapter 1, the early verses of this chapter point to it where it says, ‘he had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him; he was despised and rejected of men,’ echoes John, chapter 1, where he talks about his own people and ‘his own received him not.’

It talks about one, now this is the difficult thing that Israel would have found perhaps difficult to understand, that their messiah, their saviour, wasn’t going to come in glory as a king, as they expected. We do it don’t we when we have Christmas Journey and we do the – or is it Easter Journey? It is Easter Journey isn’t it where we do the parade coming in, recognising him as king and the expectations that they have. It is fantastic but he comes on a donkey. He comes as a suffering servant, which is what is Isaiah 53 not as anybody expected. Isn’t that the lesson that Martyn always teaches us? Not what the people were expecting.

So he comes in physical suffering and so Isaiah, although he probably isn’t aware of it at the time, is writing of a set of events that are going to happen hundreds of years in the future that will change the whole basis of God’s relationship with Israel and the world. Men and women in all nations will be affected by what happens to this Jesus, the Son of God.

So the context in which we are setting this word is the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, the coming of Christ. You can’t get more basic Christianity than that can you? Jesus Christ died on the cross, took my sins on the cross, rose again so that I might live. That is about the Gospel isn’t it?

So we are coming back right to the heart of the Gospel at this particular point. But as I read this passage and as I was reminded of those foundational truths of the Gospel God spoke to me fairly powerfully about our own lives as Christians. And the first thing I see in this passage particularly in Isaiah 53 talking about carrying a burden. I believe that God brought a specific, prophetic word through these verses, which might be looking at them in a slightly different way to the way in which you would often look at them.

Because in Isaiah 53, verse 4, it says, in the New International version, ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.’ And carried our sorrows – and when I read that particular phrase, somehow for some reason those words hit me like they never have before. He carried our sorrows. I’ve heard a lot of sermons on this passage. I’ve heard sermons about the cross on this passage. How Jesus Christ took my sin and your sin on the cross, nailed it to the cross and died for me. I know that. I’ve heard that message and I know that message. I’ve received that. He’s forgiven me because he’s taken my sin on the cross. I believe that wholeheartedly and I believe that passage is about that.

I’ve heard messages on healing on this passage; pointing out that Jesus took our physical diseases as well because although your physical illness is not connected to your personal sin, it is connected to sin in a general way. If there wasn’t sin and wrong in the world there wouldn’t be sickness. Right? Do you agree with that? But it doesn’t mean that because you are sick it is to do with your personal sin, okay?

So I’ve heard many messages on this passage about how Jesus carried our sicknesses; many messages on healing and many challenges. I am not going to deal with those this morning but you see we read very, very clearly in this passage that Jesus was described here as a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.

That wouldn’t be, would that be a description you would like to be appended to you? A person of sorrows and familiar with suffering; you might feel sometimes that is where your life is, I don’t know. But that is not a particularly encouraging description is it? But it is very clear in this passage that what they are saying is, these sufferings, these sorrows that Jesus went through, were not his, okay? They were ours. You know that don’t you if you are a Christian?

That is fundamental to your faith. He took my suffering, my sorrow, my sin on the cross. If he hadn’t been perfect, if he hadn’t been the Son of God, if he hadn’t been who he is, he couldn’t have taken them. Colin couldn’t have died for me because, without being personal, Colin, you’ve got your own sin, haven’t you? And you needed someone to die for you. Ruth couldn’t have died for me because she’s got her own – only Jesus could do it. But he took my sin – absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith and absolutely fundamental to this passage.

But moving on it says that he has taken our infirmities and carried our sorrows and actually the words in the previous verse, where it talks about Jesus being a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering and he took our infirmities and carried our sorrows, they are the same two Hebrew words. They are not translated the same in the NIV, they are translated slightly differently. Sorrows is translated the same because they are the other way round as well, which is part of a bit of Hebrew poetry. The ideas are reversed but the two words are the same.

So Jesus is – let’s concentrate on this for a minute. Jesus has taken our suffering and our sorrows. I take it as read that we believe that he has taken our sins and they are forgiven. You believe that don’t you? I take that as read.

But I want you to think this morning that he has also taken our sorrows. Another thing that I’ve started doing and try to do is on a Wednesday morning, about 6.30, I am going to come down and spend about an hour and a half just praying in the Church on my own. And I’m not saying that so you’ll think, oh isn’t he good. I don’t want you to think that I just want you to know that I’m going to do that.

And I was here on Wednesday morning and I was sat in here and I was praying and part of this, part of these thoughts of this morning and Isaiah 53 were on my mind and I was thinking about this that God has carried our sorrows. And one of the things that I felt God powerfully say to me when I first read this passage is that there are many people in this Church who are still carrying their own sorrows. You are still carrying your own sorrows; even though he has carried them you are still carrying them.

And I had a picture, it was a picture based in reality I guess because it was a picture of a person leaving a supermarket. It could have been Tescos or Morrisons, it really doesn’t matter and they were weighed down with heavy bags of shopping. And as I considered this and as I prayed about this I saw that week after week, as Eunice and I do, they went back to Tesco and they came out and in their shopping bags was the same shopping week after – do you do that when you go to Tescos? You go round in the same order and you buy the same stuff?

Anyway they were coming out carrying the same stuff week after week after week and from time to time someone would come to them and say, “Can I carry the bags to the car for you?” “No, no, I’m okay with my own burdens.” And then I went home a little while ago and some time ago, at the beginning of the year, I bought for Carol a tear-off calendar, didn’t I, every day? And on this calendar was an e-mail address and you could get an e-mail every day with a little story. Sometimes they are terrible and I delete them. Sometimes I keep them. This was the one that came a couple of mornings ago.

"Coming out of the grocery store, and this was after I’d had the picture of the shopping bags, coming out of the grocery store right in front of me were a man and his young son. The little boy was desperately hanging on to a big bag of ice, trying to appear as if the act were effortless. His father was doing the actual carrying, holding it with true ease by it’s handle. The little boy cried out, “Don’t let go, Dad, don’t let go!” And the father replied, “I won’t, son. Is the bag too heavy? Is the ice too cold?” “No, no, Daddy, I’ve got it but don’t let go.”

"Thinking back on this scene I drew a significant parallel. How like the little boy I am, hanging on tightly to my life, insisting on controlling it all by myself. I go into the office early and do paperwork through lunch. Obsessed with getting ahead and forcing my career to climb; or I pick and choose the Church activities that I want to participate in; those that conveniently fit into my life. And I plan constantly for the future, making lists, structuring my priorities to meet my timelines. In reality my Father is carrying the load. I could easily let go and allow him to effortlessly carry my burdens and rule my life.

"I know there are times when my Father says, “Is the load too heavy? Are you feeling cold and alone?” My answer is usually just a shift of the load. I groan under its weight but tenaciously hold on to the burden. “No, no, Father, I’ve got it. But don’t let go.” So I have to decide when I wake early in the morning and my body immediately tenses in anticipation of the day’s problems, do I want to carry it all by myself or would I rather leave it for stronger arms to bear?"

And as I came back to Isaiah 53, I felt the words of God speaking to my life and for the rest of us, saying, “Who is carrying your sorrows?” God has taken them. Christ has taken them on himself. But I do believe that God is saying, and this is not something I don’t think that has happened in the last few months, or even in the last few years, it may be something for the lives of some of the people I know that has been going on for years and years; and years and years and years and the sorrows and the burdens and the difficulties are years back. So much so that you are really totally used to the pain and the discomfort they’ve brought and you can deal with it day by day. But Jesus Christ is saying to us as individuals, “But you are carrying something that I am carrying. Why are you still carrying it? Why are you still allowing that hurt to be there?” And I felt as I listened to God, and over the last few weeks I’ve – this story has come since this Isaiah 53 thing, different things where God has just reinforced to me that this is what is happening for some of us.

And, of course, there is the classic verse in 1 Peter 5, verse 7 that I am sure also you know, that says simply, ‘Cast all your anxiety,’ or ‘cast all your care on Him because he cares for you.’

And you know I am as, I am not talking to you and saying, “Hey you lot, get this sorted out.” I am talking to me. I love it when, occasionally, I know I refer to Facebook from time to time but for some reason when I came back, I went to a really good consultation with Thought and Light on Monday and for some reason I came back on Tuesday feeling really fed up and rotten. I shouldn’t have done because Monday was really encouraging. It was fantastic. It was brilliant. But for some reason Tuesday I felt really aggravated and I couldn’t think of any reason why I felt like that and – but come Thursday several things happened in coffee, I met people, and God sort of said, “I’m still here you know. I’m still doing this.” And I had some really significant conversations where God just touched, little ways, nothing spectacular, nobody got dramatically healed or converted, it was just little things. And it was God saying, “I’m still here you know. Why are you worrying about stuff when I’m doing it?”

And it was so powerful and interestingly I put it, didn’t I, as some people will know, as my Facebook status and I got 13 likes. That is amazing. If you do Facebook you get, they like your comment; if you get 13 people who like you it feels really great. You know, that is more than usual. So I was interested that this feeling, this sense that sometimes,"Where is God?", is common to all of us, right?

And so God is saying, “Why are you still carrying -?”

Then we went to this consultation last Monday and one of the guys was looking at Psalm 103 and in fact Andy and I sat the other night and I read, this was yesterday morning actually, we read Psalm 103. I am going to read part of Psalm 103 to you.

‘Praise the Lord oh my soul; all my inmost being praise his holy name. Praise the Lord oh my soul and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion; who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.’

And Andy and I really were praying into this psalm yesterday morning for Jenny, particularly when we got to that verse.

‘The Lord works righteousness and justice for the oppressed; he made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious; slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve.’

What a fabulous verse – ‘He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities; for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love.’

Have you tried measuring that recently? ‘so great is his love for those that fear him, as far as the East is from the West’ – and that is actually immeasurable, not measurable, because whenever you go East, presumably you keep on going, ‘so far he has removed our transgressions from us.’

And you read that psalm and, what a God? What a God! The guy who was sharing it with us the other, on Monday morning at the retreat said, at the consultation that we were at said, “There are a lot of psalms, which are described as psalms of lament.”

So while I’ve talked about bearing burdens the second question I was going to ask based on this is, is it wrong to complain? Do you ever complain? Okay, you don’t have to respond, to tell me about that but you’d probably just tell me yes, okay? You complain at God and there are many psalms, you can read many psalms where David or the writer complains to God about his lot and they are referred to often as psalms of lament. There are plenty of them. So David did a lot of complaining; he was really upset.

But this one is the total opposite because all he says is how good God is; all the good stuff that God is doing. And sometimes you might read a psalm and think, that doesn’t actually gel with my experience. But sometimes, this guy was saying, “Sometimes we have to say, you know, I have to decide that that is going to be my experience. That is what I want to walk into because that is what God wants for me.” And giving up some of these sorrows and saying, “Okay, Lord, you have carried this. Why am I still carrying it? I give it up to you. I give up to you -.”

Maybe involved with those sorrows is some kind of anger and hatred towards somebody else. I know it’s easier said than done but we can give that up to him too and he can take that. And that is the thing that God is crying out to us to be doing; to take those sorrows and the pain and anguish and anger and all the legitimate feelings – it is not wrong to complain.

I once heard a guy preaching in our church and he said, “You should never ask God 'Why?'” And I went up to ask him and said, “Why? Because the bible is full of people that ask God why?”

And the other thing is, did you know this? They didn’t always get an answer! Or at least it wasn’t the answer they wanted. He didn’t tell them why. Sometimes all God said was, “Don’t worry about it; trust me. Don’t worry about it, let it be my problem.” Have you ever tried that? “Let it be my problem,” God says.

So the psalmist here seems to be someone who is daily full of praise and worship. He knows God in every aspect of his experience. He feels totally satisfied in God day by day. He feels renewed and strengthened every morning for the day that is ahead. Is that a typical morning? When you climb out of bed with your youth renewed like the eagle’s ready for another day, is that how you feel in the morning? Or do you sometimes feel I don’t actually want to get up this morning?

Okay? God is asking us, okay God is not asking us to be unrealistic; I am not being stupid. I don’t expect you to rise every morning and ring me up at 6.30 in the morning saying, “Morning Tim, I’ve just had my quiet time. God is good isn’t he? I just wanted to remind you,” because you probably won’t get a particularly friendly response; I’ll just warn you about that one.

But seriously, seriously, God is saying to us, are we going to keep carrying our own sorrows or are we really going to let him carry them? Because he already is and he is saying to us, this is prophetically I believe saying to us, “Why are you still carrying that stuff when I’ve taken it?”

And part of complaining is actually to be honest with God and to be honest with each other. Okay now I realise I am opening a can of worms here because if on a Sunday morning I say to one of you, “How are you this morning?” And you say, “How long have you got?” I might have to book an appointment later in the week – but I am encouraging, you’ve probably heard this story before. I think I’ve told this story before but I picked up this story on the Internet as well. I knew it before and I’ve probably told it to you.

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who was a President of the USA, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one ever really paid attention to what was said. One day during a reception he decided to try and experiment. To each person who passed down the line and shook his hand he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvellous,” “Keep up the good work,” “We are proud of you,” “God bless you, sir.” It was not until the end of the line when greeting the Ambassador from Bolivia that his words were actually heard. Nonplussed the Ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I am sure she had it coming!”

Now I don’t know whether that is apocryphal or true but somebody had the guts to say what they really felt and on a serious note I have been very saddened when one person, from a different church, not a church here, came to me one Sunday and said, “I’ve said to my Minister/Priest/Vicar whatever it was on that particular occasion, this morning he said to me, ‘How are you this morning?’ and I said, ‘Terrible, I’m in an awful place. I don’t know what to do.’ And he said, ‘Okay, bye.’”

What do I do? If I ever do that to you will you hit me? Okay, and I mean that. Pippa will take me up on it too but seriously, we need to be able to be honest and when we’re honest we need to be able to deal with it.

I knew I was getting old when I ring up my mother and say, “How are you?” and she tells me and then I tell her about my symptoms and, you know! But seriously we need a little bit of honesty too.

So if we are going to do this sorrows carrying stuff it is going to be something we do together because sometimes when actually I need to be honest and say, “Yes, I am really hurting at the moment. I really don’t know where God is. I really even sometimes doubt my faith.” And I’m not going to say, “Oh, oh no, I’ve got a member of my church who doubts their faith.” I’m going to say, “Yes, I’m like that sometimes. Come on, let’s get together; let’s pray this thing through together.”

Because this is what we’ve got to do; if we are going to go into another year when I believe God is saying to us as a Church that our slogan, if that’s the word, for next year, should be ‘faith is spelt r.i.s.k.’ then we’d better get ourselves sorted out first. Because I really, really sense that God is going to be doing some tremendous things amongst us but until we really give up some of the sorrows we are still carrying.

The final part of that, and we’ve probably covered it as well is just to say, we need to be able to see things from God’s perspective and sometimes that actually means taking on hope when in many situations, humanly speaking, there seems to be no hope. Isn’t that the difference for a Christian and one who is not a Christian? That when you are faced with a hopeless situation I can say, as a Christian, humanly speaking that is a hopeless situation but I have hope because God is in the middle of it; because the cross is real; because He has carried my sorrows and He has carried my sin and because I can bring him into this situation.

And it has got to be a conscious decision. It has got to be a – when Mandy and Nigel had their blessing here the other day I was talking to them about marriage and about forgiveness. And do you know forgiveness, like love, is actually a conscious decision? I have to decide I am going to forgive someone.

People will say to me, “I can’t do it. It’s not easy.” No, I know it’s not easy. Was it easy for Jesus to forgive us? He went to the cross but he’s covered it. So I can say, “Actually, Lord I can’t forgive X, I can’t forgive Y, I don’t know how to do it. But you’ve done it already so I’m giving it to you and I’m going to ask you to carry my anger and you to carry my hate because you’ve already taken it on board.”

So all that God is saying to us today, and it’s – this is not a word in any sense that God is wanting to condemn us, or that Christ is wanting to condemn us; he is wanting to prepare us for the good things he wants to do. But he wants to speak to some of us perhaps who have hung on to things for a long time and he is simply saying to us, “Why are you carrying that sorrow when I am carrying it for you?”

And just be prepared to pick it up and say, “Do you know –,” wasn’t there a story in Pilgrim’s Progress where Christian was carrying his burden and when he got to the cross didn’t it fall off and roll down the hill? And did he chase after it and pick it up again and put it back on? Of course not! You know sometimes that is exactly what we do do. We pick it up again.

I don’t know how you want to respond to this morning’s message? It may be you want to do the cow cud-chewing stuff and you want to go away and you want to be quiet through the week and pray it through and say, “What are those?” It might be 100% obvious to you in your life at this minute that there is one thing that you know that you need to yield, one pain, one suffering, one thing that you need to say, “I am going to get rid of that because Jesus has taken it.”

And if you want to come to Martin or Sue or myself or one of the other leaders of the church and you want to say, “Will you just pray with me that I can really release that sorrow?” Or you want to say, “Will one of you come later in the week and pray with me somewhere else?” One of those things, or maybe as we sing, I am going to ask that we actually go back and sing, I’m probably disrupting things completely but I did warn you this might happen. We are going to go back to 419 and I want to sing this song again and we can sit and sing, ‘Oh, let the Son of God enfold you.’ Have you got that, Sue?

Pray for the computer for goodness sake as well! Sue is very tempted to lay hands on it in a less than positive sense. No, I know you didn’t. I put words in your mouth. So let’s sing this song and if you feel God is calling you to respond, then there might be a way this morning – I want to ask you this morning, I think this is the way I am going to do this. I have wondered about how we were going to do this.

As we leave this morning I am sure there will be some other singing going on, if you just feel "I’m just going to go and get a cup of coffee" and be quiet with other people, then just go and get your cup of coffee, that’s fine. But rather than staying in here and chatting, you know, we don’t do it. We’re not, we’re good at doing that. We’re not all sort of loud and noisy, just allow others a bit of quiet.

So if some want to stay in and say, “Will you just pray with me?” “Can I just share that?” “Can we arrange a time when we can do this?” Then just be conscious this morning that there might be one or two that want to do that or if you want to contact me in some other way. But you may feel this morning that you even want to come to the front and sit at the front and just say, “Yeah, this is me. God has spoken to me this morning.” Come and sit in the front row if you want to do that.

I know we are not big on doing that kind of stuff but I want to leave it to you. You can respond this morning to what God is saying and maybe you’ll just say to someone, “Pray for me, there’s an issue. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to tell you what the issue is but I want to pray about it.” You may want to actually talk about what it is. There are so many ways but I want to ask you this morning to think seriously about how you respond.

And the second verse of this song really sums it all up:

‘Come and sing this song with gladness And your hearts are filled with joy;'

And then it says:

‘Oh give him all your tears and sadness, Give him all your years of pain.’

Why can’t we do that? Because he’s already got them; he’s already taken them on the cross. Surely he has borne our sorrows. Let’s sing quietly, sitting. If you want to respond in some way please feel free or ask for prayer then do that.

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