Sunday Worship – 31st July 2022

Welcome to our Sunday Service, today shared on paper across our Circuit and with the congregation at Bolton Methodist Church, and led by Roy Lorrain-Smith, one of our Circuit Local Preachers.

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

Theme: Being rich towards God

Opening prayer

Lord, please will you be here with us this morning.  Make yourself known to each one of us, that we may worship you: in spirit and in truth; deeply, and lastingly. 

And help us to get our priorities right, both now in our worship, and in how we live every day – through Jesus.  Amen.

Singing the Faith 113 –  O worship the King, all glorious above

Reading: Luke 12:13-21

Our welfare depends on more than material benefits.  The Bible doesn’t for a moment suggest that family, food, and shelter don’t matter, but it probes our priorities and demands that we put God first.  Jesus said, Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  (Mt 6:32-33)  

And here he makes the point with the aid of a parable. 

·   The story highlights the dangers of covetousness, of ignoring God and focusing exclusively on material things, which count for nothing in the final analysis.  

·   And the danger of thinking only of yourself: that rich farmer gave no consideration at all to how he could use his bounty to help others.  What could he have said for himself at the judgement? 

·   We’re also reminded that death may come sooner than we expect, and we must prepare now for what lies beyond.

So how can we set about becoming rich towards God

Jesus contrasts it with laying up treasure for ourselves, ie, hoarding material things of this world.  So we must put our relationship with God above our desire for the things of this world. 

So perhaps being rich towards God could be:

·   Rich in our knowledge of his word, the Bible: treasuring it, reading it; accepting it’s values; obeying it – and not just in a tick-box fashion, but finding and following the spirit of its commands, eg: don’t murder, nor even be angry; don’t commit adultery, nor even look lustfully; etc. (Mt chap 6) 

·   Rich in our understanding of God: who he is, and his plans; and of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; and the Lord’s role for us; and the importance of our souls, which we cannot ransom from the grave (but which Jesus can do for us) (Ps 49:7-9; Mk 10:45).

·   Rich in our experience of God: by relying on his word and finding it true; by prayer and finding that he listens and answers;  by worship and sensing for ourselves his refreshing and satisfying presence, his peace, and his rest. (Mt 11:28; Lk 19:42; 24:36; Jn  6:35; 7:37). 

·   Rich in godly character.  But more of that later.

Singing the Faith 544 – As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you


Lord God Almighty, Maker of all creation, please will you bless:

·   Those who suffer loss from the material greed of others: dispossessed from what is theirs; denied rightful wages; cheated in business, or mugged and robbed in the streets […]

·   We add to that list those whose health is suffering: sick in body, or mind, or soul – especially those unprotected by social security schemes, and for whom sickness brings poverty […] 

·   And any who are worried and anxious for any reason: problems in their own lives; or the threats of environmental decline (global warming, waste, plastics, pollution, wildlife imbalances), and all the woes we are warned these will bring […]

·   We lift up to you also our concerns for people or places we care about; or problems you have laid particularly on our hearts […]

In all of these concerns we ask for your blessings, through Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

We’ve prayed for those who are suffering in the world, but we’re uncomfortably aware that we ourselves are partly responsible for their problems, by the way we live, everybody.  Things go wrong or are made worse by selfishness: people going their own way without regard to the interests of others (and sometimes even deliberately at their expense, exploitatively).

The Bible tells us that evil first spread through the world following Adam and Eve disobeying God’s command, thinking they knew better and would find pleasure and wisdom (Gen chap 3–11), and that same disastrous attitude is all around us still.  So if we want the world to be a better place, in line with our prayers, then we have to allow God to put each of us right, obeying him and seeking the wisdom that comes from him, rather than whatever is offered by the world, or which we can find for ourselves. 

Singing the Faith 500 – Happy are they who find the grace, the blessings of God

Reading: Colossians 3:1-14

So, besides being rich in our knowledge and experience of God, and his words and ways, we are called to be rich in good, wise, godly character.  Set your minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth (2). 

When we repented we died to all of that.  So we’re to see the job through: get rid of the old nature, and put on the new (3).  A bit like changing clothes: putting on our best for a big event or an important guest, but of course meaning inward change.

Cast off the old (which we once were like (7), and perhaps still…?):

ý Sexual immorality.  This is rife in our day too.

ý Impure passion and evil desire.  Consider your own passions and desires, and how far they deviate from God’s standards.

ý Envy and greed, which is idolatry – as in Jesus’ parable of the bigger barns.  We all know about this, all too well: our stuff.

ý Bad temper, irritability, and malice: ie, bad attitudes towards others. 

ý Slander, dirty talk, and lying to one another: sins of the tongue, which is so hard to control.

And to stress the importance of what is being urged, we’re warned that it’s on account of these evils that the wrath of God is coming.  And there will be judgement for those who have not repented and accepted Jesus’ forgiveness.  Fool!  God said in the parable, This night your soul is required of you. (Cf. Ps 14:1) 

We must search ourselves, and work to get rid of these bad traits when we find them, asking God for the help we need. 

That’s the negative side of the change being called for, but negativity on its own is unhealthy (to follow Paul’s metaphor, just getting rid of clothes would leave us naked). So he lists the new clothing we need.

Instead, put on the new

þ Compassion and kindness towards others.  Meeting their perceived needs, and considering their feelings.   

þ Humility and meekness under God – that means accepting his values and doing what he says.

þ Patience and forbearance with each other.  This isn’t easy; it takes practice.  It isn’t the same as not caring what others do; it’s about the quality of our relationships with them.

þ Forgiving others, as God has forgiven us.  This isn’t easy either!  But it helps to think about all that God has forgiven us – a much bigger debt than any run up against us, big though that may feel. 

þ And above all LOVE, holding it all together.  This love is very practical: doing for others what you’d like them to do for you.

And for good measure Paul adds: and whatever you do, in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (17)  We have so very much to be thankful for!

We are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, so dress accordingly!   What’s your wardrobe like? 


Lord God, what a question!  Our wardrobe of clothes?  What can we do but confess the shabby gear we continually go about in […]

Please help us to clothe ourselves in behaviour that honours you, all with your designer label of caring love towards others.

·   Pure in our attitudes; and helpful and supportive, instead of exploitive and demeaning […] 

·   Humbly desiring what you call good, both for ourselves and others. […]

·   Not always out for all we can get – bargains, loads of stuff – but relating well to others, both those we live with or see regularly, and those we only meet and walk with for a short time. […] 

·   Finding how to subdue our own bad and selfish attitudes towards others; and learning to forgive others as you have forgiven us. […]

·   Help us also to control our tongues, so that what we utter does not damage or destroy others, nor cause us bitter regret afterwards, but is kind, encouraging and supportive. […]

Lord, will you help us to live increasingly Christlike lives, thankful for the opportunities you give us, because in your love we matter to you.  All this we ask in his name.  Amen.

Singing the Faith 231 – The silent stars shine down on us with bright but sightless eye

It’s all very well saying that we must change, but how?  New Year’s resolutions come to mind!  How are we to keep it up? 

First, such transformation is a joint effort: when we set out on this road, once we repent and believe in Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, God sends to us his Holy Spirit, and he works within us to change our natures towards Christlikeness.  But at the same time we are to work with him, striving with heart, soul, mind and strength to kill off the old and put on the new, being enabled and guided by the Spirit. (Phil 2:12-13) 

Second, the Bible is a great help, because it is God’s word to us.  Here are some helpful tips and insights:

1.  Think with Biblical wisdom

·   Remember you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) 

·   Think differently: be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Rom 12:2) 

·   Think higher and purer: don’t let your mind dwell on the bad (Phil 4:8) 

·   Let God prune you, like a gardener who prunes fruit trees to make them even more fruitful (Jn 15:1-8) 

·   Open up to the Holy Spirit, to bear his inner fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:16-25) 

2.  Pray earnestly with God

·   Consider each failure to control the bad things in you as a knock on the door by Jesus, who stands there waiting to be asked in.  Open the door and invite him to come in and deal with what’s wrong, cleaning that part of you and putting it under the Spirit’s control.  (Rev 3:20) 

·   Pray for the help you need, and as soon as you need it (Heb 4:16) 

·   Pray for insight: it helps to understand God’s ways (Eph 1:17) 

·   In general, rejoice always; pray without ceasing; and be thankful for all that God has done for you. (1 Thes 5:16-18)  

3.  Talk with trusted friends

·   Advice from others can help. (Ps 32:8) 

·   Talk to trusted friends who will keep confidence (Pr 27:9), and those who’ll help you truly listen to God. (Jer 42:1 – 43:7) 

·   Discuss things carefully. (Pr 15:22) 

·   Share experiences with Christian friends: we can all be encouraged by each other’s experiences. (Pr 18:24) 

In case it helps, I have summarised these points pictorially, arranging texts round a drawing of a naked tree, as if it were putting on new leaves for spring growth.  (See below)


Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, please work in us to complete your intended transformation, that we may be rich towards you and worthy of the role you have assigned to us, each and all, here in this world, ready for the hereafter, in your good time.  Amen.

The Lord’s prayer 

Singing the Faith 545 – Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart

The Grace
May the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all forevermore. Amen.

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