Sunday, 16 December 2018

Sunday Sermon: Emmanuel

Sermon by David Williams
Is 7:1-17, Matt 1:18-24

What is your preparation for Christmas? When did you start?  God started centuries before, as soon as the first sin occurred (Gen 3).  Do you raise the hype?  God gave many foretastes, prophecies of a coming Messiah. Many are in Isaiah (eg Is 9, 53 etc), a turbulent time when the message gave hope – is our situation too easy?

How is your knowledge of Old Testament history?  The kingdom was divided Israel/Judah after Solomon.  In the eighth century, Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria threatened Judah, wanting help against Assyria, the dominant power.  Judah needed help!  Are things ganging up on you? You need help!  They thought of appealing to Assyria; Isaiah said to trust in God.

The king, Ahaz, did not want to trust in God without reassurance, and demanded a sign.  God gave a message that God was with them, the sign of Emmanuel (God is with us).  When a young woman is with child, her deliverance is inevitable, and will be soon – so it will be with them, because God was with them.  Here there is no miracle – they were told to trust in God’s word.  It was a small sign, but with a big promise!

It was not enough for Ahaz, who appealed to Assyria, who indeed came and dealt with Pekah and Rezin.  But! A human solution became a problem, and Assyria then soon threatened Judah – was God indeed with them?  But God was indeed with them, and not so long afterwards, in 722BC, came a decisive defeat of Assyria by the angel (Is 37:33f).  But did they learn? Not long after that, the next king entertained emissaries from Babylon, the ascendant world power, which a century later conquered Judah and took it into exile.

Then came Matthew 1, another situation where salvation resulted, not politically, but from individual sin, and Matthew cites the same sign of Emmanuel.  Even after centuries, the Bible was still relevant – and still is.  But now the sign is upgraded!  This time it is really a virgin, who has conceived.  So there is a stress on GRACE!  (it must be noted here that the Hebrew word in Isaiah 7 definitely means “young woman” and not “virgin”, but the translators into Greek two centuries before Christ rendered it as “virgin”, a translation cited by Matthew.

But now the sign of Emmanuel carries a deeper meaning as it is applied to the incarnation. Jesus gives a deeper relation; God works within a person, not just outside in society.  He gives a fuller salvation, eternal life, not just temporary solution.

Interestingly Matthew then adds chapter 2, the response of worship.  It deals with three kings from the east, now coming in peace, not as the Assyrians.  They brought tribute, not taking it! They are often called “wise men”; here their wisdom led to Jesus.

So what is Christmas for you?  Matthew stresses that Jesus is fully God, now with us.  The book of Hebrews elaborates: The Son is superior to earthly power. The Son is superior to wisdom.  And the Son is superior to angels, even those who defeated the Assyrians!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Mike Griffith passed away peacefully on Friday, 9 November 2018, aged 85, after a rich life.  He was surrounded by love and care.

At the end Mike was surrounded with care and love: his wife, Carole; his nurse, Miriam; Carole’s generous friend, Tonya who left her home and business to help; and his daughter, Laurel who had come from New Zealand. A touching item was when father and daughter sang Mike’s favourite song Oh Holy Night! to Michele in Grahamstown During the last few months, many Hogsbackians visited to help and encourage Mike and Carole as Mike became more frail. 

Mike was a gentle man. Like so many who eventually lived at Hogsback, he would bring his family for picnics and then in 1980 he bought the property as a family holiday home.  It was meant to be a refuge and he was happy never to leave. Appropriately, he named his home Tanquility.  Mike has three children: Michele who lives in Grahamstown; Laurel in Wellington, New Zealand; and Gary, an Anglican priest, in New Zealand. Mike has six grandchildren, one in China teaching English, and the others are all in New Zealand.
Mike and Carole at their home. They had met in East London when their children were young and later, in 2013, they married in St Patrick’s. The remarkable groom was 80 at the time and had a smile on his face every day!
Although he was born in Johannesburg, Mike spent most of his career in East London. From his school days he was a leader. He had that air of confidence that creates respect from others. His leadership was crowned by being elected by his fellows as the Custodian of the Key and then selected by the staff as Head Prefect of Selborne College.  His peers recognised this leadership role throughout his life. He had a beautiful tenor voice and would sing in church as a chorister. He was an outstanding sportsman representing the school in three team sports and was captain of two of them. He was Sportsman of the Year at Selborne College in 1952 and was selected as the opening bat in the South African schools XI.
The Border Cricket side of 1960/61. Mike played for Border as a batsman for ten years

He worked for the Weir Group and became MD of the Agriculture Group. To show his enterprise, he volunteered to go to Dordrecht even though it is an Afrikaans region and his Afrikaans was not strong. Not only did he learn to speak Afrikaans, but he stayed for three years and during that time he scored the highest turn-over ever.
The Directors of the Weir Group of Companies. Mike was MD of the Agriculture Division and was the top dealer for three years and was awarded a trip to London to meet the President of Massey-Ferguson worldwide 

Mike was a faithful Christian. He was a lay minister and conducted services in neighbouring towns. He was in demand to conduct weddings. He was a loyal member of the St Patrick’s Chapel and was elected to the Council, a position he held for over a decade. Another major contribution of his, together with his friend, Neil Cooper, was to conduct the Christmas and Easter Arboretum services in the forest. 
Mike, at a recent Council meeting 
Mike was kind. Mike’s life has been one of service to his community. He has lived in Hogsback for many years during which time he has made a huge impact. As a businessman he ran the shop for a while but unfortunately had a huge setback when the business did not succeed. It says a lot for his tenacity that he bounced back. Of recent years he has been an estate agent where many Hogsback residents will attest to his kindness in ensuring that they were looked after. Many of the house sales in Hogsback, have his imprint on them. He was Chairman of the Hobbiton-on-Hogsback Association and spent many years on the Community Police Forum to ensure security for the Hogsback community. 

One of the most special aspects of his life is how he has gone out of his way to help the needy with some amazing accomplishments. On one occasion he heard a young primary school child, Sipho, sing in the kitchen of the Lighthouse Steak Ranch (previously called The Enchanted Tree House restaurant) where Mike was eating. He asked to speak to the boy and suggested they sing ‘Silent Night’ together, as it was Christmas time. Together the two sang ‘Silent Night’ to the delight of the other patrons. Mike managed to get Sipho to sing in the chapel during the Carol Service where he wowed the congregation and a visitor offered to sponsor him to go to the Drakensberg Choir that year! Mike managed to get him accepted and Sipho was able to experience the highest level of voice training and education for a year. Earlier, he was able to help another disadvantaged child from Hogsback, Luke, to be adopted, and after 13 years is now at Bishop’s in Cape Town. Mike has enriched many particularly showing compassion when conducting weddings; helping the needy and even selling houses.

You have enriched our lives and the community. 

We shall miss you, Mike.

By Trevor Webster

Mike loved his Hogsback home, Tranquility, and would greet visitors on the ramp Fritz built to enable him to use his walking frame; guests were greeted with this cheerful sign above the door showing how much they were appreciated

Monday, 22 October 2018

What does God want? (Sunday service by David Williams)

Ez 33:1-9, 
1 Tim 2:1-8

It is always so sad to stand in front of the church and see empty pews.  Why do people not come? (but thanks to those who do!) This demands the question...
Why are we here? What do people want? 

They want fellowship, music, to feel God, all good reasons, but really secondary.  The essence of Christianity is to relate to God, and to yield to Him.  The Bible’s favourite title for God is “LORD”, in both Testaments.  In salvation, we are transferred to His Kingdom. So there is a question …
What does God want us to be if he is Lord? 1 Timothy 2:2 gives an answer: Quiet and peaceable, Godly and respectful.  In short, in HARMONY with others and with God In this we reflect the nature of God as Trinity, three Persons in full harmony – we are in His image – incidentally 3 Persons are ONE God (1 Tim 2:6).

What does God want us to have (1 Tim 2:4)?  He desires the salvation of all, and that all have the knowledge of the truth, in short, LIFE! – both for now and forever.  Again as in his image, this reflects the nature of God, who is life.

This is what God wants; what has He done (1 Tim 2:6-7)?  Thank Him for that!  God sent His son, to teach and die so we know how to live now and forever.  AND God sent His servants, which also means us.

So what should WE do?  Obviously seek to live right and proclaim, but Paul puts something else FIRST of all (1 Tim 2:1), our priority …
  • Pray!  It is God’s work that we need

For all, even those we do not like, irritate us, harm us etc. For rulers, even those who misrule, are corrupt, even persecute.  Remember the emperor at the time was Nero

This means that we have a responsibility; we are called to stand in breach to ask God not to bring judgement on those who deserve it (Ps 106:23, Ex 32:7-14)
                        We are watchmen Ez 22:30, 33:1-20
                        We are intercessors 1 Sam 12:23
                         But if we do not …, then we answer to God

Are we serious? If he is our LORD, we MUST pray!  Indeed, we must supplicate (1 Tim 2:1), so urge, beseech, implore!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Featuring: Rev Barry and Lynden Wittstock

The next St Patrick’s couple to highlight is the Rev and Mrs Barry Wittstock. Barry has been the Archdeacon of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Cambridge, East London, since 2006. During that time, he has also been involved with St Patrick’s, especially during the last few years. In fact, he is one of our two official marriage officers and has taken many weddings here. He plans to retire shortly to live in Hogsback where he has a house where his son stays. We have enjoyed the fact that he has been able to take services quite regularly. A bonus is that his wife, Lynden, is a superb pianist/organist and plays at services.

The wedding of Barry and Lynden at the Grahamstown Cathedral on 24 June 1978; Barry’s ordination at Holy Trinity Church, King William’s Town on 1st June 1980, with his mother
Barry matriculated from George Randell High School in 1971 and gained his diploma in theology from St Paul’s College in Grahamstown. He has served in at least eight parishes in the Eastern Cape, starting with and ending at St Mark’s Cambridge. He went to Queenstown and returned there, Fort Beaufort where he was also responsible for St Patrick’s, Hogsback, Adelaide, Kidd’s Beach and Beacon Bay.  He was chaplain of many institutions. During this varied career Barry has got to know and been involved in many rural areas including being involved with Hogsback activities. He has been a part of Hogsback affairs as a landowner, a priest and has been on the board of the Hobbiton-on-Hogsback Association. During his career Barry has led social responsibility projects, been an invigilator for matriculation examinations, has led missions to other towns and many countries and has been involved with the training of ministers.
Barry, Barry’s brother, Rod holding Emily and Lynden; the Wittstock children Jonathan born in 1983 and Victoria born in 1981
 Lynden was brought up in Cradock where she went to St Peter’s Anglican Church. She studied nursing and has progressed to become a sister. Barry and Lynden married on 24 June 1978 at the Grahamstown Cathedral. Two years later, Barry was ordained at the Holy Trinity Church, King William’s Town on 1st June 1980. They have two children: Victoria born in 1981 and Jonathan born in 1983. Victoria married Wesley Luff in 2003 and they have two children, giving Barry and Lynden two grandchildren studying at Stirling.  
The marriage of Victoria to Wesley Luff in 2003 at St Nicholas Church, Beacon Bay; the two grandchildren: Kiara and Kaylib in Stirling uniform
We thank Barry and Lynden for their service to St Patrick’s over many years and for their involvement in our activities.  We look forward to their retirement here at Hogsback in the near future and assure them that they will be much appreciated. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Featuring: Tandy Makalima

Tandy Makalima with her daughter, Orienda, and grandson, Enkosi
Tandy Makalima’s father was a policeman at Hogsback. She was born on 1st November 1970 in Auckland, went to the primary school and then Siyabonga High School where she matriculated. Her tertiary education was done at Fort Hare University where she gained a BSocSc in human resource management and a BComm Hons in industrial psychology. She has been working at Victoria Hospital in Alice since 1991. 

Tandy’s daughter is Orienda Makalima. She was born in Auckland on 3 July 1989. She went to the Auckland Primary School and then Nzululwazi High School in Alice to matriculate. She has a son, Enkosi, born 19 February 2014. The three of them live together and love spreading their wings by travelling. They have made trips to Aliwal North and to Cape Town where they loved going up Table Mountain, seeing the Waterfront, going by boat to Robben Island and eating seafood at Camps Bay, amongst other things. 

Tandy’s home in Auckland.  The family has lived in Auckland for generations, like so many other Mfengu people.  Tandy travels up from the valley for Sunday church services; here she chats to Norma during tea after service

Tandy posing; with friends including Hogsback; in traditional dress

Tandy is a star tug-of-war athlete. Here she is preparing for the tug-of-war; Tandy displays her award; friends celebrate Tandy’s award in the Games
The prestiguous Award ceremony; celebrating with friends
Tandy and daughter; three generations of the Makalimas beautifully dressed at The Edge
Travelling north!; playing in the snow at Hogsback
Tandy loves growing vegetables, eating them to keep her family healthy and selling them. Sometimes she brings her vegetables to sell at church.  
Enkosi in the vegetable garden; Enkosi eating his vegetables
Thank you, Tandy and family, for sharing your story with us and contributing to St Patrick’s church services. We love chatting to you after church services and hearing your news. We appreciate the dimension you bring to the congregation. 

Enkosi kakhulu 

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Sermon By David Wiliams: Paul at Athens (Acts 17)

Ps 121,
Acts 17:16-34

Do you like travel? In fact we are all on a journey!  Paul was on a journey with a purpose; he wanted to spread the gospel (Matt 28:20).  On his second missionary journey he had to wait for his companions in Athens, but he was not idle – he could not waste precious time.

While there, Paul was provoked by the idolatry in the city.  That is like Jesus, who was sad about Jerusalem (Luke 13:34).  Paul was severely provoked; the word is very strong (paroxysm). How do you feel about unbelief?

Paul took every opportunity to share the good news, not just to the religious, but to any who would listen (Acts 17:17). Why? Like Jesus, out of love and compassion, but also out of obedience to God.  He was called to witness, both generally, like all Christians are told to, but specifically when he met Christ on the Damascus road (Acts 9).

After a while, Paul was given a specific opportunity – the Athenians always wanted to hear new ideas.  People were prepared to hear; are we as ready to listen, as in church?

Paul sought a point of contact with them, as I like to do with visual aids, things that are part of God’s creation.  He saw one in the many idols in the city.  What would he say here – many churches? Or perhaps that we also have many things we almost worship like idols!

Paul then pointed to God’s power (Is 42:5).  Because he knew God, he was not overawed by the audience, at the heart of what had been the intellectual centre of the world for centuries. And no doubt he knew the help and power of God.  Yet he also proclaimed that God is close to all, and in fact reveals by a human being, Jesus.

But Paul did not just inform and entertain, but announced that God demands repentance; there will be a judgement!

And Paul did not just give an interesting idea, but could say that God gave evidence; Jesus rose!  This is a feature of every Acts sermon. Are we sure of the evidence? Are we sure because we have met Him? Then we can tell with confidence.

There was a varied response (Acts 17:32) - belief, mocking, delaying.  Paul remained steadfast - God wants faithfulness

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Profiles: Peter Smooi

As we are profiling some of the amazing members of our small congregation, this time we are casting the spotlight on Peter Smooi.

 Peter Smooi is one of the characters of Hogsback. He is recognisable in the community with a smile on his face, standing on the pavement selling mushrooms or walking sticks or walking with his dog by his side and his guitar slung across his shoulder.  He is a man of peace and of Africa and identifies with Rastafarianism.  He is a deep-thinker and has interesting viewpoints. 

Peter’s heritage is truly in the Amathole mountains where his family has lived for many generations. He was born at Daneswold in 1964. His parents lived in Hogsback, although his father came from the Kat valley. Peter has inherited characteristics from his Khoi grandfather who worked on a farm nearby. Although he grew up in Hogsback, he went to school in Alice up to Std 3 and then he worked in gardens and factories in many places including travelling to Cape Town to work in a factory. He has two children: Yoliswa born in 1984 and Anelisa born in 1990.

Since Peter’s daughters have left him, he lives on his own. A typical day in the life of Peter is to get up in the morning, have a cup of tea or coffee, and then walk into the forest to search for mushrooms in the summer, particularly under pine, oak and wattle trees. He will collect them and carry them to the village to sell them. The most popular mushrooms are the Bolitha and pine ring mushrooms. He also looks for suitable black wattle stems to make walking sticks to sell to visitors. The inscribed walking sticks have become a trade mark of the pavement sellers who congregate on the pavement opposite the hardware store and the shop. Many hotels buy them in bulk to sell as souvenirs. The other special trademark of the pavement sellers is the making and selling of clay cattle, hogs, horses and the chapel which they make from the local clay.  It is in this way that income is derived to buy pap and bread. One can imagine that there must be some days of no sales and therefore no food. And yet, even though Peter has so little, he will share what he has with Gas.

Jikani, which opened on 25 January 2014, has played a, invaluable role in many ways including supplying clothes to those who cannot afford expensive clothes. On Sundays Peter and Gas make the longer walk to St Patrick’s where they are regular members of the congregation.    

Even though Peter does not have many material goods, what he has he shares with his dog, Gas. Peter is an example of how one can live on little.  His life makes one feel humble as it shows that material goods that are so sought after by society are not the essential priorities. In many ways these St Patrick’s profiles make one appreciate some of the great messages of Jesus Christ, to see Christ in others, to be humble in oneself and to be kind to one’s neighbour, especially if he or she is in need.     

In admiration to all those at Hogsback who walk tall even with so little! 

Thank you, Peter; enkosi kakhulu, Peter. Ndiyabulela kuwe, Petros, esizithandayo wena

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Snow Gospel Festival hour

We are inviting EVERYONE to come and join our local communities, up here in Hogsback, at Bold Point, at the foot of the Elandsberg heart, to sing and praise the Lord, in the middle of the Hogsback Celebrations weekend programme. The Bold Point community will be cooking and selling food from 12 noon to 4pm to raise funds for their community hall. The little ones and the youth will be doing traditional dancing, gumboot dancing and storytelling from 1-2 pm, where after we will have an hour of worship singing from 2pm to 3pm.

If God put this on your heart to come and join us, we would appreciate it more than you know. Even if you just keep this Celebration weekend in your prayers, that we all will be safe, and that God will be at the center of everything.
You can download the programme for the Hogsback Celebrations from here
What to bring:
It is very cold up at Bold Point so please dress very warmly. You can bring blankets/chairs to sit on and if you have spare blankets to donate to those who do not have, that will be wonderful as well. Maybe sweeties for the little ones will also be a fantastic idea. Bring your voices, instruments and if you would like to do an item that would also be “cool”. We are trusting God in this.
There unfortunately is no more accommodation on the mountain, so it would be lovely if you could drive up and back on the Saturday.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Paul’s thorn (service by David Williams

2 Cor 12:7
Gen 3:1-19;
2 Cor 12:1-10

What do we want for our children; that they grow big and strong! So we want to take away hindrances. We want the same for the church. So we want to remove trials and temptations. They can hinder our spiritual growth by making us concentrate on the problem and not on God. But they can do the opposite and make us remember God!

The Genesis story tells us why the world has thorns (Gen 3:18). It has fallen, and we share in that, so we have disease, problems, cancer and so on. Emphatically these are due to satan; God is good and tempts tempts no one (Jas 1:14). But they are allowed by God, but because they can result in good!

One of these is the thorn, but note it is only a problem if it gets inside! Remember the apple; it did no harm until it was eaten. But we are prone to do so; in the flesh dwells no good thing, because we share in a fallen world. But temptation is not sin. Then Paul was not exempt.

Emphatically, a thorn harasses, it slows, hinders, and so is bad. But does not kill. We are saved, the thorn does not take that away, but it affects our sanctification.

Paul in danger of pride, because of what God had blessed him with. And he could not remove the thorn. Then his weakness allowed God to work. Sometimes our ability means that we hinder God. After all if we trust our ability, we are not trusting God – we cannot have two masters! Then our strength is made perfect in weakness, and that means it must be God’s work, we cannot be perfect.

So in his affliction, “my grace is sufficient” - the thorn a gift! And gifts aid our service. It was grace, and so .undeserved.

What do you do in trials?
  • Firstly, prayer for removal! And so many just do not do that, and put up with the problems unnecessarily. The prayer of Paul was pleading, was persistent, repeated. It was in faith, and here the experience of Paul was a real blessing – he KNEW God.
  • Secondly, if not answered, we know that God is allowing the trials for our good! Then remember 1 Corinthians 10:13, and that trials for a Christian must be temporary – we have assurance of heaven. 
Look to Jesus and all that He suffered, for out of that came blessing. The same is true for us – they are not so much trials – they are assets!

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Doubt Sermon by Norma Fivaz

Readings:   Job 38: 1-11                                                        
                   Ps 63
                   Mark 4: 35 – 41  Message & NIV translation

Introduciton:  The day when    “ The wind ran out of breath.....”
Eugene Peterson captures the moment in the most beautiful prose. Can you feel the wind?  Breaking, crushing, destroying......until it eventually settles down.

Here in Hogsback, we know those storms, and we all run to unplug the modems before all our electronic equipment gets destroyed.

And eventually, even the wind “runs out of breath...”   and it all gets calm once again.

Focus:  Life's  storms and the effect on us.....possible doubt

We have all gone through stormy patches in our lives, times that we had felt overwhelmed, tired.

There is one thing certain in this life:  there WILL be storms.

Mark 4    A very familiar story. All the Children's Bible illustrations are so vivid, of this little boat   surrounded by waves that want to crash it to pieces any minute. Both Rembrandt  van Rijn and Van Gogh tried their hands on depicting these moments  on canvas., and it you look at their paintings, you notice these hardy fisherman, with eyes wide and anxious.....expressions of despair, hopelesness....

V35 a:   “That day ….”   NIV
It had been a normal, busy day in the life of Jesus …
-      He had just selected His 12 disciples and started His ministry
-      teaching along the side of the lake of Galilee, explaining His parables in easy, understandable language
-      answering questions that arose from His teachings
-      healing Peter's mother-in-law ….and many others
-      healing the paralyzed man, which had to be lowered through the roof, as the crowd that surrounded Jesus, filled to house and all the entrances to the home
-      healing the man with the shriveled hand

An ordinary day in the life of Jesus...busy with what His Father sent Him to do....

V 35 b:  “when evening came..”  NIV  (Msg says “late” )   
There are times when it gets dark around us. The sun had set, and the beauty of the sun-set had been  swallowed by the dimmed's task is almost over..

And yet, there is still a beauty in the dark of evening....with bright stars against the pitch black velvet sky, sparkling....

-      tranquil
-      Silence around the boat
-      Idyllic

And then there is a change in the mood of the evening.....

v37 “A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat” NIV
  Msg: “ ahuge storm came up. Waves poured into the boat....threatening to sink it”

Can you sense the anxiety that these skilled men of the sea, must have experienced?
-      hopelessness
-      the feeling of loosing the battle

v 38 :   Where is Jesus under these circumstances?
“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion”

-      He is IN the boat
-      right there, within reach
-      unafraid of what the weather conditions are doing to them

Question:   What was required of these disciples, in order to save them?

Answer:  to Call on Him
-      a simple instruction
-      humbling....because we cannot get it right in our own strength, even if we are experienced in these kind of situations
-      we need to take the step
-      reach out to God

v 39   Jesus' response?

            1.      “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves:  Quiet! Be still!”

                      He calmed the storm
                      He responded to their requests

           2.   v40  “ Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

 This comes as a rebuke to the disciples:    Where is your faith?   You of little faith.....

Let's apply this scene to our own situation:
What are the reasons that we........
-      waver when life gets tough
-      hesitate to hand it ALL to God
-      still want to carry the responsibilities of being in control?

We all wrestle with this to some degree, at some stage on our lives. This thing called    DOUBT.

 Myths about doubt  (1)
1.     Many people think doubt is the opposite of faith. It is not!     Faith vs unbelief

And UNBELIEF means:     refusal to believe
                                            a deliberate decision to deny God in our lives

Doubt may include:   -     questions about certain facets of faith
-      an ambivalence or in-decisiveness over one issue.
You may be a full-fledged Christian, without having EVERY single matter of faith 100% settled or neatly defined.

2.     Many people think doubt is unforgivable.  It is not! I want to point you to John the Baptist, the man who baptised Jesus. The man who said of Jesus....” Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”. He saw the heavens open, and heard the voice of God, saying : “ This is My Son with whom I am pleased”

            This is the man who pointed at Jesus Christ, and said: “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God”.

He had incredible faith.

But what happens.....he gets arrested, thrown into jail, and doubt starts troubling him.....he gets uncertain about what he had believed before.  “Is Jesus really who He claims to be? Or should we be looking for someone else”.  So he sends two of his friends to go and check out with Jesus, and ask Him point blank the question.

What is Jesus' reaction? He doesn't blame John. He doesn't disqualify him. No criticism.

Luke 7:22:  “And Jesus answered and said to them:  “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard. The blind receive sight. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The dead are raised up. And the poor have the gospel preached to them”

Paraphrased:   Go back and tell John about these evidences you have seen with your own eyes  that authenticate My claim to being the one and only Son of God. That will renew John's confidence and will bolster back up his faith.

How does this effect Jesus' opinion of John? Does He think John is worthless? No good for the kingdom of God any more?

NO:   after this episode, Jesus pays John the highest compliment.....”I say to you, among those born of women, there is no one greater than John”.

God wants dialogue with us as His children. That's not to say doubt is praiseworthy. That is NOT what the Bible teaches.

What it says to me:    In our relationship with Him, God wants honesty, openness, intimacy to the degree that we have the confidence to discuss and reason and debate with our Father. Tell Him what concerns us. Tell Him when we feel lonely, abandoned, fearful......(add whatever feelings you may harbour)

3.     Many people think doubt is unhealthy.  On the contrary:  it can produce some positive changes in our spiritual life, if we take steps to resolve it.

If we take steps against doubt, it is like an antibody which our spiritual life boost our spiritual  immune system. We will have the defence mechanism to address future situations which may derail our faith life.

                                                                                    (1)    Sermon on Doubt
How does doubt affect us?

-      it affects our mind
-      our emotions
-      our will / decision making

How do we address doubt?
1. Find the root of your doubt......We need to make a diagnosis.
-      too little time spent in God's presence?
-      Too controlling of our circumstances
-      pride?
-      Our intellect that forms a barrier.....we what to reason everything out in a scientific way

2.     Addressing doubt …..the treatment

ASK....                         -    Turn to God
-      turn to a God-fearing friend, who can walk the way with you
-      turn to a support group / Bible study group who you can trust

READ  God 's Word

TALK to God

GO to a church and be part of a Christian group / fellow believers

Doubt is such a powerful instrument that the devil uses, to try and separate us from our Heavenly Father. He wants to destroy our close relationship with God.

Don't allow the devil to steal what does not belong to him.

God is powerful, loving and willing to hold you in His hand....may He protect you and keep you safe!

Heavenly Father, we so often forget that You are with us in the storms of life....right there, in the boat, lying on a cushion.....waiting for us to call on You.
How foolish of work ourselves into a frenzy, in stead of calling on You first, allowing You to be in control.....of the wind, the storms and our lives.
We want to asked for forgiveness, for the times that we doubted You; doubted Your ability to take control of the situations. Forgiveness for our doubt.....

Thank you that you do not                  – criticise us
-      disqualify us
-      write us off   …........... because of this weakness.
We come in a new way, this morning, reaching out to You, putting our hand into Your hand, and letting go of our anxieties.
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your graciousness, to give us another chance. Help each one of us to leave here, knowing that we have a Father, who cares and  who wants to steer our lives.

Thank you for Your Word, and examples of humans who have stumbled before us. Let us learn from them and their examples.
We want to honor and praise You!
We want to thank you, for being a loving Father,
                                           an understanding Father
 one who cares, and wants us to live lives, believing and knowing that You are in control.

Thank you, that we can close this prayer in Your Holy name.