8th July 2018

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1

Welcome to church today, it’s great to have you with us. We are beginning a new series looking at the apostle Peter and asking the question was he a saint or a sinner? I hope you find it helpful.

As most of you will know Jo and I have been away for 8 weeks on what I have called ‘very-long service leave’. Over the next couple of weeks, I thought I might use this space to update you on what we learnt. The first thing was the importance of sacrifice. As you will also know, 3 weeks of our long service leave was spent in the Holy Land. I have always wanted to go to Israel and Palestine but at the same time have felt an ambivalence in case it disappoints. Would it be over developed? Would there be more questions than answers? Would I miss the simplicity of Jesus? These things were in the back of mind. Now I certainly found this a most complicated land, geo-politically, religiously, and Christianly but what I also found was the importance of the Scriptures and faith. Faith is believing things that are not seen. In Israel/Palestine you can rarely go to the exact spot.

This doesn’t mean that in the broad scope this was not the land in which Jesus walked. It was. But if you are looking for the absolute place, completely accurate timing, ‘without question’ definitive spots – you won’t find them. They don’t exist. For some, time has eroded them. For some, conflict has destroyed them. For some, history provides 2 possibilities (I sometimes think God would have it that way too). Faith comes from things unseen. Faith comes from believing the word that God said in the Scriptures is indeed the word of God, accurate, definitive, exact. It comes from building your life on that truth.

Yes, we went to all the places. Yes, many of them were very moving but the best of all was reading the bible in these places and hearing what God said. Should you go? Sure. Should you take your Bible? Absolutely.

Jesus came to bring faith on the earth, let us put our trust in him.

Stuart