SUNDAY WORSHIP – 20th November 2022

(All our songs this morning are from Hymns & Psalms (H&P) Numbers will be given where available)

Welcome to our Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our Circuit and with the congregation at Bolton Methodist Church, led by Daniel Barrett, one of our Circuit Local Preachers

Click on the blue links to follow them for Bible readings and associated links.

Theme: God hears us and helps us; he never ignores us!

Call to worship
Lord, we come to you today with adoration and give to you all we are because we adore you and because you always know what we need before we ask.
Lord, we come today and give you the whole adoration you deserve, because you died upon the cross to set us free.
We come because we need you Lord, because without you we would not know who to turn to in our times of need.
Without you in our lives Lord, we wouldn’t know where to turn and we would be lost in our own minds, with no freedom, without care or righteousness.
Our theme for this service is: “God hears us and helps us; he never ignores us!” We’ll be exploring just what that means, and how being aware of this can help us to help others.

Song – H&P 668 – Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine

Jesus, we turn to you and give you our thanks that every time we need guidance you are there to see us through the toughest of times. Even though the answer isn’t always the one we expect, we know you know what we need before we ask. We thank you for being in our lives and giving us the freedom to love you with our whole heart and mind.
We thank you Jesus for giving us your teachings, so that we can be better people in our own lives, and in the lives of others, so that we can love others as you love us. And so, we can carry on your teachings so others may gain for themselves a life with you by their side and know that a life with Christ is a more fulfilled life, never wanting or needing more than you give. 
Even though we don’t always do the right thing or act the right way Lord, we know you hold nothing against us for being us. We know we are sinners, and we will not always be sin free, but we give you our thanks Jesus for forgiving us for the wrongs we make through life.
We ask that you grant us your forgiveness Lord when we act in the wrong way, or we say the wrong things to others. So that in turn Lord, we can strive to be better to others and pass on your forgiveness to them. We need your help Lord, for sometimes we know not what we do till its too late.
We ask that you watch over us and guide us to be better people, so we then can strive to give others more understanding, more love and more forgiveness. Just as you have given so freely to us.
Lord, we come here today with all our prayers, in the hope that we can ask for your love and your forgiveness, for which we give you, our thanks. We bring these our prayers in your holy name.

Song – H&P 66 Great is thy faithfulness

Today I come to talk to you about a little thing that happened to me recently.
I had what would be seen as a breakdown and everything I did, or I said to anyone, seemed to be wrong.
My life just seemed too hard to bear and everything was weighing heavily on my mind. Then I remembered what I had learned through my preaching and being a member of Northcliffe Church: that no matter where we are or what we go through in life, there are always people there to help, to offer an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry upon or a friend to spend time with. But most importantly there is always Jesus, which reminded me of the poem that I have on a coaster at home. I have brought it with me today for you to see: the poem is “Footprints in the sand”.
Life sometimes seems like it is too unbearable and too difficult to carry on with and sometimes we want to just drift away to a dark lonely room and forget what we have going for us.

Difficult times like that can affect anyone. So, with that in mind, let’s pray for anyone who finds themselves in a situation like that. Let us pray:
Lord, we pray here today in the hope that what we hear might give us some understanding of what others might be going through.
We ask that you hear our prayers and grant us your guidance, so that we may give others an understanding ear to listen, a shoulder to cry upon, and be a friend to sit with.
We ask that you show us the way through tough times Lord, that those with hidden mental health problems can know they have places to go, people to talk with that understand what they are going through, and to know there are always other ways out of a situation, so that they might know and understand that talking to others can help.
We ask that you grant us here today the knowledge and compassion to be able to help others with their problems. And we pray that they will know that you are working through us to help them.
Lord, we pray for those we know who are going through any mental health problems, and hope they know we will help them in any way we can and give them the best guidance we can through you working in us and through us.
We ask for you to be our guiding light so we can show others there is light for them should they want it.
Lord, life is hard at times, but we need to show the whole world that through Christ Jesus it need not be the struggle that some of us go through, and it can be made easier with you in their lives.
Give those who are struggling, the understanding that although it might not be the answer they hope for, you really do know what we need before we come to you and ask for it.
Jesus, you showed us the way, you taught us how to be who we are meant to be, and you gave us everything we need. We ask for your guidance once again, to help others in need, to show them there are people who care for them and share with them that you care for all.
Lord at this time of year especially, we need your light to show the world we care for each other, so that we can try to limit the lives lost through suicidal thoughts, so people understand a life lost is a tragedy. And that being there for each other is the way of your teaching.
Lord, grant us the power of love for others, so that through you at this time of year, we can pass the love of Christ to others and be a caring, hoping nation of people.
We bring you these our prayers in thy name, our saviour Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Prayer

Psalm 143: 1-12

Song – H&P 776 – Make me a channel of your peace

Isaiah 41: 10-13

So, as I said earlier I was going through a very difficult time in my life recently and everything I did never seemed to turn out right. It didn’t matter what I did, where I turned, I just thought life was so unbearable it didn’t matter if I lived or not. It seemed to be so much burden I couldn’t find the answers I needed.
I was at the end of my tether, and nobody seemed to help me. Not that I could ask for the help, because I felt alone – it was my burden to carry and was my time of struggling, so I needed to find a way out of this on my own, I need to keep searching for the answers, but still, I couldn’t seem to find them.
Days went by, time was ticking on and the only thing I kept thinking was “Why am I still here? Why am I so alone? Why does it always seem to happen to me?”
I kept looking at myself in the mirror and thinking “You’re not worth saving. You should have gone before now, why are you still alive?”
Nothing I did, nothing I said, seemed to make any sense. I just kept plodding on through each day hoping one of the mornings would be the last morning I would awake.
This was a really low point for me; but I knew I had felt this way before and people kept looking at me and asking, “Are you alright?” and of course I would say “Yeah I’m OK, just a bit tired, I didn’t have much sleep” – when in fact I had no sleep at all the night before.
I just carried on. Every time someone phoned me, the brave face and voice would appear from deep within, and when they asked me how I was doing, my reply was the same “You know, same old, same old” – when all I wanted to do was scream out “I’m not doing very good, I’m in turmoil. I don’t know why I am still alive. I just want to finish with all this and go. I have had enough, I can’t bear it any longer, please help me!
But of course, that never happened. I would just reply “Yeah me too, just keep plodding through, what else can you do?”
I am a very private person most of the time, so when someone asks me “Are you OK?”, my answer is always the same: “Yeah I’m fine, how are you?” I always found myself helping those who asked me if I was fine, never saying to them “Well I’m not doing OK at the minute; could do with some help if you can. I’m having a hard time. I can’t seem to find the right answers. I don’t know where to start looking, could you help me?” I would just carry on saying “Yeah I’m fine, just a bad night”; make up an excuse like the neighbours had a party last night and kept me awake, when the truth was, I had sat downstairs thinking “Why am I still here? What’s in store for me?
You see my wife is a born worrier and needs me to be the strong person in the relationship. I do try most of the time – I tell her it will be alright, nothing’s going to happen, we will come out on top, stop worrying. When all the time I’m saying inside my head “You’re not fine; scream out, tell them how you feel” – but you never do, you seem to just get another thing that seems to be a problem, on top of what you’re already thinking you’re going through. It’s hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel and you think every little thing you do or say turns around and seems to hit back at you ten-fold.
Well, I just kept going, seeing each new day out and thinking “Tomorrow’s my last; this is it, I’m going today”. Sometimes you sit and think “No, I’m not going to let this beat me. I am going to get through the next day, and the next”. But it never seems to be that simple. Each day arrives and each day goes, and the last seems to be easier than the one you’re facing. Why, I don’t know. I still have that to answer for myself. Why does each day seem to be harder than the last? You would think that if I got through yesterday, tomorrow can’t be that bad, but somehow it always seems to be that little bit worse; there seem to be more problems today than I had yesterday. Why oh why can’t I go back to yesterday when it was easier?
But the days keep coming and the days keep passing, then you start to think “Why am I going through this? What have I done that is so bad to bear this down on me? Am I a bad person? Is this happing for a reason? Why me?” You keep looking and looking, but never find the answer – it haunts you each day.
So, you keep going. The thoughts running around in your head never ending; never seeming to change; always seeming to get worse and worse. Your moods change and your habits change. You seem to be in this never-ending rut, like falling into a deep pit with no ladder to get you out, and the same questions role around yet another day in your head “Why me, what have I done wrong? Why am I here if I’m so bad? Why am I still alive here on earth?”
It’s so hard to come to terms with mental health problems and people just seem to pass you by with comments like “Oh I wouldn’t talk to him or her, they are really miserable” – when really, you’re not, you just have a lot going on in your mind. It seems even harder to smile, even harder to put on the brave face, and even harder to get yourself up every day because you just think “Why?”
I go through each and every day thinking about this time and what I was going through and why did it happen to me and not someone else. Yes, that might sound selfish of me, to think it should be someone else going through not me, but this is how it makes you feel.
Then . . . the realisation kicked in. Well, it did for me. The realisation that I’m not the only person going through this, there are others going through this today and I’m not alone. Other people are out there going through each day and feeling like me or even worse than me, so what can I do to help them?
It was like that one day when I awoke, thinking someone had said something to me through the night. The message seemed clear, yet it seemed to come from afar, and tell me: others are this way; they feel the same so what are you going to do for them? It was like someone told me “You need to now snap out of this, and you need to decide what’s right. You are here for a reason. I gave you a taste of what it’s like and you nearly broke, but you are still here, and you are still going through each day.” The only difference now was I was going to see each day thinking of others and why I was made to go through this.
I believe it was because the Lord wanted me to see and feel what it must be like for others with mental health problems, so I could relate to them and understand all what they must be feeling and try to know in myself how to help them and try to talk to them each day.
I keep looking at things each day now in a totally different way. I ask myself “Am I the only one? Is it me, or is there someone else out there I need to help?” Like I said earlier, the poem “Footprints in the Sand” – it makes even more sense to me now than ever: the one set of prints was when God carried me.
It tells us that sometimes we are made to go through something, so we might be able to look at it in a different way; so that then we can help others the way Jesus wants us to; so we can give love and understanding to others in a more knowledgeable way; so they too could look on and think “Well, they helped me, so now it’s my turn to help others”.
If we were all to live a life of passing on goodness, love, compassion and understanding like this, then what a wonderful world we would live in? Nobody would have to feel that life wasn’t worth the effort.
I have now volunteered for a men’s Mental Health charity, and the worst thing that happened to me was I turned up there, only to find my own nephew was going there and had been for several months. So, I said to him “Why did you not say anything to me? Why did you not tell me?”
Then I remembered what I went through – never asking for help, never wanting to tell anyone how I felt, never wanting to admit how it made me feel. Well, I can tell you, I cried buckets full.
I think the message I’m trying to explain is sometimes we are sent a message from the Lord and sometimes we don’t see the wood for the trees. Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways and sometimes he wants us to experience what others may be going through, to teach us that life for everyone isn’t always the bed of roses they portray. It might be a front that they put up to disguise what’s really going on in their lives. And sometimes it’s a message to remind us we need to be more understanding of what others are feeling or facing. When someone says they are fine, maybe the question is “But are you really? Do you need help? Is there anything I can do for you?”
We don’t all deal with what life throws at us in the most easiest way and sometimes life can be very draining, but if we all just stopped once in a while and said to each other “Is there anything you need? How can I help? What can I do for you?” – well it might just turn out to be a lovely world we live in.  
One thing I think many people struggle with, is making time to listen to others. So maybe the challenge for us is, to see if, out of our love for Jesus and our gratitude for what he has done for us, can we make time to listen to others who are going through a tough time? In this ever so busy world, offering our time to others is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
I do believe that Jesus talked to me to make me think I needed to go through the same to help my nephew; and I do believe that this time of year and the season that is fast approaching is a very worrying time for some, and maybe, just maybe, if we stop, look and listen to others, the message of the Lord Jesus Christ just might become the sound of joy for someone we come across; and then they might go and tell others; and they might go tell others, and the word of Jesus could resound again all through the world – that people care and people are willing to go that extra mile to make others feel needed, loved and understood.
Jesus told us he would be there for us, and I think each of us need that reassurance sometimes, that we have a purpose in life: to take his message and shout it from the rooftops and tell all why Jesus wants us to do this. He said “Love each other as I have loved you” – we need to remember this in our everyday lives, so that each person we come across can pass that message on to others they come across.
We need to give thanks that our lives are never as bad as what we may think. Jesus loves us all and so should we love all.
If there is anything I would love for you all to take from this today, it is to remember that some are less fortunate than you and some are not as strong as you; some need help and guidance, and as Christians, Christ taught us it’s our duty to help those in need. We can uplift the spirits of one that can turn in to lifting the spirits of thousands! We need to cast away the negative thoughts of today and those of tomorrow, because the Lord Christ Jesus wants us to realise, we are all here for a reason: to love and understand each other always, just as he loves and understands us! Amen.

Song – H&P 86  –  Tell out my soul

Prayers of Intercession
Loving God, we thank you for all who show us love and grant us an ear to listen and time to spend with each other. 
We ask that you grant us this time so we may help those in need; those who need to tell out their troubles. We ask that you make us stop Lord and think of others, so we may give them our understanding and they may know we care for them as you care for us. 
Lord, we ask that you would grant us compassion in our lives, so others can know the true meaning of love towards them; so they may always know that no matter what, we are here and we are ready through your guidance to pass it on to others. 
Lord, we pray for those who are in need and ask that your never-ending love can shine upon them in their time of need and answers will be granted to them through you. 
We pray today Lord for those who need your forgiveness here on your earth today and hope that through our prayers they can feel that forgiveness and they can pass this on to all in need through you. 
We pray that for all who struggle with their mental health, they can feel hope in their lives through you no matter what, or how hard it feels at that time. Give them the knowledge O Lord that there is love awaiting them through friends, groups, or family. Tell them Lord through your words – and our actions – that we care for them and never want them to feel like they are alone. We are here when they seek as you are here when we seek. 
We pray for all who sit here in your house or in their own house reading this today that they too can feel your love, your compassion, and your forgiveness. 
We pray for those who are ill or suffering today and all days. Shine upon them Lord and let them know we pray for them with love and give them our compassion and that they are never alone in what they go through. 
We pray today and all days Lord that the fighting and injustices through the world may stop and people can relax in the comfort of your love. 
We pray that wars may cease, and people may join together in harmony and once again embrace the love of each other as we should through your teachings. 
We ask for your help Lord, that through the season that fast approaches us we can stretch out to all in need and prove to others that the people of the world care for each other and life should never be as hard as it seems. 
Lord grant us the wisdom we seek to go forth and give to people we meet the truth about the importance of their lives. Lift their spirits and give them new hope, as you give us each day. Grant this to us O Lord, that those in their time of need can see that a life with Christ is an abundance and a joyful life. Help them to realise that, even though sometimes they face trials and tribulations, the life you grant them is the best for them and though sometimes it’s hard, they are never without love. 
Lord, we pray for a more understanding world for all, so that we all can live in joy and happiness with you in our lives. 
We bring you these and all our prayers and give you thanks for hearing them as you always do. We ask all this in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ.

Offertory Prayer
Lord, accept these gifts and put them to your will.
Help us to help others through these gifts that they might feel the love from you. 
We give these gifts to you Lord, that we can put them to use in the community and help build your church. 
May our gifts help to make a place of safe haven for all who may need shelter and warmth from the cold. 
We ask that you accept these gifts and show us the guidance of light to put them to good use. 
We give all we can to you Lord in the name of our saviour Jesus Christ.

Song – H&P 691  – Come let us sing of a wonderful love

Go from here today and pass the love of the Lord Jesus Christ freely and willingly
Give those you meet your ear and sit with those in need and bless all you see
For the time is now to give your love as Jesus knew you would
Bless you all
In the name of our saviour Jesus Christ

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