Brooks’ Bar New Testament Church of God, Manchester
Pastor Mullings (welcome):
Good morning. It’s with great delight that I welcome everyone to our service here at Brooks’ Bar, just a short distance from the Old Trafford home of the Lancashire County Cricket Club and from that other famous stadium – Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams.
Our church was first established in the 1960s by people coming from the Caribbean to the UK. Today it’s a vibrant mix of many cultures.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Through these words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, the God of all creation invites us to come into His presence and reason with Him. He intends that our sin, which constitutes a wedge between His life giving presence and our souls, would be utterly removed and that we would receive His health and His life, that we would live the abundant life that is found in Him.
I hope that as we reflect today on the nature of leadership, we would be inspired by the supreme example of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, who has come from the presence of the Lord to help us.
Please lift your hearts in faith towards heaven with me, as we present ourselves to the Lord God and to the purposes He has designed for us to achieve in the earth for the glory of His Name.
Pastor (opening prayer):
God our Father, we are thankful for the privilege we have to worship before your holy presence. Help us to recognise the holiness of your character and the worth of your exalted Name as we worship. Cause us to hear your voice and to receive with understanding the truths you share with us today; cause us to find the direction we need and the courage to do the things you have commanded us – especially in these difficult days of austerity, greed and conflict. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in our individual lives, in our homes, our communities, in this country and the world at large. We thank you for hearing us and granting us the desires of our hearts for the praise of Jesus Christ your Son, in whose name we pray.
Let us now lift our voices together in song and declare the eternal fact that Jehovah is the one faithful God: Great is thy faithfulness.
MUSIC (Great is Thy faithfulness):
It is indeed a wonderful feeling coming to the realisation of the eternal fact that there is no god like Jehovah. As we continue to celebrate the blessedness of coming to such a realisation, let us welcome our Br Toby who wants to share with us a testimony of the process he went through in coming to realise that Jehovah God is the only God and that faith in Jesus Christ his Son is the only means by which restoration to His life giving presence can be obtained!
Br Toby (testimony):
[Far from having an unstable family life, my upbringing was filled with love. However, as an adult I just couldn’t make sense of the world and how I fitted into it all. I was a very unhappy young man. I was in a perpetual state of worry, my relationships consistently failed and I drank a lot to escape the pain of floating through life disillusioned and without hope.]
I had no experience of Christianity beyond going through the motions at school. Neither had I any understanding of the notion of faith. Instead I was wholly confused by our willingness to use the word to refer both to a belief in something (to have faith in) and following a belief system (to adhere to ‘the faith’).
Critically, I had no concept of faith as a means by which we can know truth.
Having grown up with a secular worldview I considered myself an empiricist, valuing rationality and reason. I imagined that the only way to legitimately know truth was by sensory experience: seeing, hearing and touching in the physical sense. I considered it beyond human capacity and unnecessary to attempt to answer ‘high-level’ questions about creation, purpose and love that are actually vital to our well-being. Knowing by faith seemed irrational and irrelevant.
At twenty-five I started singing in a gospel choir and I began to hear a voice of hope, of love and of reason echoing somewhere inside me. Far from admitting this at the time I arrogantly sought to ‘investigate’ what made Christians tick. I visited church. I found it strange. But, something kept drawing me back. Then during a sermon preached to the children, God spoke to me, to the very essence of me. The Gospel message of love shone onto me and my life like a spotlight at a glitzy award ceremony. It was utterly arresting; simultaneously bold and sensitive and unavoidably relevant. The Christian story of compassion, sacrifice, rescue and renewal was at once not just plausible, but absolutely, undeniably true. It was fascinating and deeply humbling.
I understood faith as a way of knowing truth and realised that in accepting my own weakness, I was granted access to God’s healing power. I need Him in my life to truly live.
As my spirit received the message, I stared into the glory of the living God. He knows me, better than I do; He loves me better than I can and he has expressed that love emphatically in Jesus. I wanted to follow the example of Jesus to fulfil my purpose and to love others and myself as God had always intended.
[I knew my life had changed forever when I heard the word of truth, the Spirit of God leading me from within. I praise the Lord for His gift of grace: a gift that offers life more abundant than our minds can fathom. The only requirement is knowing by faith that God is who He says He is: The Great I Am.]
Special Song (Sis Dorothy Allen-McKinley):
Shattered, but I'm not broken
Clare (Bible reading):
This morning’s reading is taken from Luke Chapter 4 verses 16 to 21.
[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Let’s say Amen to the Word of God.
Praise Choir: Lately I've been thinkin'
Pastor Mullings (sermon):
David Beckham, in my view, is a leader of considerable importance. The hairstyle he modelled during the early 1990’s became fashionable for many young British boys and established him as someone others wanted to follow. Even though he was not the president of a political party, he managed to impact the manner in which many young boys across the length and breadth of Briton fashioned themselves.
Whenever the subject of leadership is discussed people tend to think about persons occupying offices of power such as a director of a company, a manager of a business or the Prime Minister or President of a country. But Leadership is much more than that. It also has to do with influence and example.
Of course all leaders are flawed and how people in the public eye act really does count.
The teachings of Jesus provide the means for identifying those who are duly qualified to be called spiritual leaders. Jesus called those who accepted His invitation to discipleship, ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’. These declarations identify all who believe and trust in Jesus as persons who are established in the earth as agents for the purpose of leading others to find rest, security and significance in Him.
True spiritual leaders are therefore those who have accepted God’s invitation to eternal life through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. It’s to the persons who believe in Jesus that this commission has come: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven”. So then, spiritual leaders are not just apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This group of important persons for which the world is in great need includes all followers of Jesus - parents, school teachers, students, office cleaners, barbers and caretakers. So as long as you have accepted God’s invitation to eternal life by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are numbered with those who are dubbed: ‘spiritual leaders!’
The key features of the leadership operation of Jesus are the important traits or characteristics of the leadership that we’re all commissioned to offer in homes, churches, schools and business places throughout our communities. Everyone who has come to the community of God by faith in Christ Jesus is required to give attention to the standard to which our expression of spiritual leadership must take its pattern. This pattern is carefully encapsulated for our benefit in the Scripture text our sister Claire Martyn read earlier.
The first significant defining principle of spiritual leadership is the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Annointed spiritual leadership has its origin in the dynamic operation of the Holy Spirit. This is evident from the declaration Jesus made in St Luke 4: 18. ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me …’
The anointing of the Holy Spirit signifies not just dynamic power holders, but persons who are appointed by God for the purpose of delivering service to others in the will of God, for the benefit of humankind. Holy Spirit anointing is not a licence for self-indulgence, but a privilege and a responsibility to benefit the lives of others - encouragement to the discouraged, support to those who are weak, and liberation to all who are oppressed by situations, systems and what the scripture calls the ‘principalities and powers of this world.’
Realising then the gift of the Holy Spirit is given to as many as the Lord our God has called into His Kingdom, we all who are in receipt of the gift of the Spirit ought to be celebrated as spiritual leaders who are strategically located by God to positively affect the lives of the people they encounter in their daily lives. Christian parents, for example, are best placed to befriend and benefit other parents who encounter the challenges of parenting and who have become overwhelmed and despairing. Young people are strategically located to support their peers who are confused by the rapid changes that are occurring in the field of education and the stress that generates for ordinary people. The gift of the Spirit affords the privilege to serve and includes every member of the body of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
A genuine attitude of servant leadership is the second principle of importance that is identified in the declaration of the Lord Jesus. From this we understand that the anointing of the Spirit has resourced Christians everywhere with words, insight, love and compassion to come alongside and to benefit those who are poor, broken hearted, captives, spiritually blind, and oppressed.
It is the responsibility of each of us to ensure that our Christian service is inspired by the example set forth by the Lord Jesus. Like Him, we too must be able to declare with Jesus and with conviction, understanding, commitment and passion that:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Those of us who are involved in serving in the Church and the wider community must use the principles identified in that declaration of the Lord Jesus as criteria to assess the integrity of all that we do.
As we serve in a way that the Spirit of God has impressed upon our hearts people in our homes, our schools and communities, we should direct our attention to the Lord and ask Him to be our vision, our wisdom and our power, so that we would honour Him in serving each other and particular those who are in great need.
Congregational song (Be Thou My Vision):
Br Reece Williams (prayers):
We approach You by virtue of the invitation You have given us through Your Son Jesus Christ. We thank You that You are willing to hear our prayers, and answer them through the power of Your Holy Spirit.
At this time we come to You on behalf of the leaders of this country, firstly to thank You for the wisdom You’ve granted them and also to ask that You would strengthen them in this time of increased austerity. We pray that they would base their decisions on the pillars of truth, justice and righteousness.
We pray for the people of Syria, especially for young people who have been affected by the violence and abuse. And we pray for all those seeking to bring reconciliation and a just peace to all areas of conflict in our world.
We pray for Christians in our society who occupy positions of leadership and all Christians as we attempt to model the love of Christ to those around us. We pray that integrity would be the cornerstone of our leadership and that we would be ambassadors of Your glorious Gospel.
We pray for the leadership of families - that mothers, fathers and carers throughout our communities would be empowered to love, protect and guide their children and those in their care in the right paths. In a week when the dangers children can find themselves in within our communities has once more been in the news, we pray for all the victims, for the vulnerable, and for all involved in the work of child protection.
And, in a week when many parts of the country have seen flooding, we pray for all those affected, for the emergency service and for all those bringing relief and restoration.
In the name of Jesus we commit all of these requests to You.
As we venture out into the communities of the world to serve our Lord Jesus and the people He made for Himself, let us go in the knowledge that our God is able to keep us from stumbling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To God our Saviour, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forevermore.
MUSIC: Beautiful One!