31st December 2023

Steps to the new beginning

Passage: John 6:66-67, Revelation 3:20
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

This is the last day of 2023. How many of you have had a great year? Put your hand up if you think the year has been good for you. All right. How many of you, it's been a bit of a heavy journey? Anybody want to say? Yeah, there's a few. Heavy journey? Okay. Well, this is the last day of the year, and traditionally we consider about the new year that it's a time to have some fresh start. Sometimes we talk about making New Year's resolutions. I've, across the years, made many, haven't kept very many of them, but I still think they're good to make, just to have yourself prepared to improve or to go in a better direction. And so New Year's resolutions aren't bad to do, depending on what they are. I wonder what might be the most important decision for you. Step, change, resolution, we might make at this time. I wonder what it is. And as I've been looking through the scriptures, I've been going through the Gospel of John just these last few days, up in Mapleton and getting ready for today. But looking through the Gospel of John, and it has brought to me a lot of memories because, you know, when I first became a Christian, they gave us a little Gospel of John. I still remember the Sunday afternoon of sitting next to my brother. He was against the aisle, and I was there. And at the call for people to make a decision to come to Christ, my brother started to move. And he gave me the courage. I just followed, really, him. He gave me the courage, except for my raincoat getting stuck in the nail, and I had to rip the raincoat to get out. But it sort of boiled down that moment, as to whether I'd care for the raincoat and what would happen at home when I wrecked it, and whether I would just take one step. It was just one step to start. And I think a New Year's resolution often is when we come to a place of realising we need to make a decision as to direction. And we don't need to necessarily carry it all out or know everything about it, but we sometimes do need to take one step. And if I can help you today to take a step, an important step that the Scriptures help us to see is a part of what it is to be a disciple of Jesus, and this will be a worthwhile Sunday morning. And because the Gospel of John was what they gave us out, the man who counselled us and led us to Christ in a word of prayer, gave us little John's Gospel, and my brother and I took it home. Do you know, we read that thing, I'd like to say non-stop, but we did stop for meals and for overnight. But across three days we read through John's Gospel at home, and somehow that's associated with me with making the most important step of my life, is to do what God calls you to do. You know, across the years I've wondered about why it is that the Gospels are so long, all the chapters. And yet when people say they're Gospels, I thought the Gospel was meant to be a pretty pithy short message that you could respond to, quickly. But actually the Bible teaches that it's the message of the Gospel made more deep that helps you become a disciple that's really got on the road. And if there's a good decision, New Year's resolution someone might make, it might be to be a disciple of Christ, to go all the way with Him, to take a step, maybe just the first one that you need to in your mind make that you're going to really seek to be someone sold out to Christ. And the Gospel of John is a good Gospel to go on through. There's another pastor on the north side of Baptist Church, and he was on the Internet telling his people and telling all who would listen that he's going to do a chapter a day, and inviting them to join with him. I think that if you would do a chapter a day from John's Gospel this year, 2024, this year coming up, starts tomorrow, you would find that God would meet you and help you carry out that decision to be a disciple of Jesus. And so it's from the Gospel of John that I wanted to address this question. I think the very best decision or the biggest, most important decision that someone could make in this New Year's period would be whether you're going to go on for Christ, or whether you're going to backslide away. Interestingly, both possibilities are always with us every year. And in John's Gospel in chapter 6, Jesus, facing his disciples and talking with them, addresses this question because he's been teaching the crowds, and he got to a spot where some of them found it a bit too much to swallow. And there was a bit of a desertion. You know, the word disciple, as used in the Scriptures, depends on the context as to who is in mind. The twelve disciples, or the twelve apostles, that's a very committed group of folk. But sometimes the word disciple is just used for those who followed him around, and there were hundreds of those, or just the crowds that came on different occasions. And sometimes those disciples, the whole lot of them, would come to a decision not to bother anymore. And you know, it's very possible for someone who is at a New Year's resolution moment to somehow make decisions as to what you're going to do. Normally you don't make the decision to backslide, but I think it is that you might make decisions that take you away from the Lord. And there might be a decision that you've been nurturing for this year. Is it one that's a decision to be a disciple of Jesus and to go on with him, or are you going to somehow decide, more by default often, to do those things that let you drift away? Now, let's see this in the Gospel of John, and for a start, and understand about it. But in verses 26, I think, let me just check here. In John's Gospel, in chapter 6, we'll go down and see in verse 66. From that time, many of the disciples turned back and no longer followed him. From that time, Jesus has been giving teaching. Now, this is great encouragement for me. Because Jesus did teaching and people left. So there's always a possibility in human nature that the call of Christ is not necessarily received, and people heard what they had from Jesus and didn't appreciate it enough, or didn't understand it. After this, many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. Wow. So you see, it's possible. At New Year's Eve, though we think ourselves that we'll make good steps, new resolutions, that it could be that that which we commit ourselves to is not that which takes you on with Christ. And I'm asking you the question, will this tomorrow night, the next day, these weeks, represent for you a decision to get closer to Jesus? Or will it be a decision that in a sense, by default, takes you away from him? These people turned away from Jesus. Now, part of the rationale, part of the reasoning, is that they didn't understand his teaching. And this is something that I've discovered across the years, that sometimes you meet people who've spent time in church, and when you ask them, you know, do they know the Lord, or do you ask them, do they have any Christian attachment or affiliation? And often you hear, I used to go to a youth group. But that wasn't really for me. No, I'm doing other things now. And you hear an answer that they didn't quite make it in the door in the first place, though they wouldn't realise that. It is that perhaps that what was presented to them as being a Christian was just some shallow association with church people, or it might have been it was some philosophy of life that didn't quite gel with them. And so for a start, I want us just to understand, from the Gospel of John, what actually it is that you've got to believe to be a real Christian. There are some things that believing is the right belief, but not sufficient to make you a real Christian. And so we'll canvass some of those along the way, but to do that from the Gospel of John, we'll need to turn to chapter 1. So go to chapter 1 of the Gospel of John, and the first 14 verses. Give us a bit of a picture of what is the content of faith that will get you in the door with God. So the Gospel of John and chapter 1 and the first 14 verses will help us with this. Now the very first verse has got a rather heavy dose of what we call theology, they're statements about Christ. He's referred to as the Word, the expression of the Godhead. He's the one who speaks to you. He's the one who has the very explanations of who God is. He's the one who brings light to you, and He's the one that stands behind the Scriptures. So when the Bible speaks to you, it's actually Jesus through the Bible who's speaking to you. He's called the Word. He's the out-speaking of the Godhead. There's God the Father, there's God the Son, and God the Son is called the Word. He always was that. That expression of the Godhead, even before He took on humanity, before He was Jesus, He was the Word. And so it says, in the beginning was the Word. Then it says, the Word was with God. And the little word for with there, the word pros in the Greek, it actually means face to face. He's towards the Father and the Father toward Him. They're in communion, they're in fellowship. The Word was with God. So you have a plurality of the persons in the Godhead. The Spirit is the third person, of course. And here we have Jesus, and He's with Father God. And then it says, the Word was God, meaning He's divine. So there's a mystery in this. I can't fully tease it out more, because it's beyond us to fully grasp. If you could comprehend this, you'd be greater than God. But no, these three are the three persons of God, and the expression that is the out-speaking of God is called the Word. And He's in the beginning with God. And He's face to face with the Father. And He's divine. That's the one we're speaking about. Now, to be a proper Christian is to recognize the deity of Christ. If you just think He's a good man, or if you think He's a good teacher, or if you just think He's the one who's initiated the Christian religion, you haven't yet understood enough to be a Christian. For the deity of Jesus is at the heart of it. It's the acid test. If you meet up with a group who are believers of some sort, but they don't believe that Jesus is divine, then leave, because they're not really Christian. Or if you don't want to leave, a better idea would be to tell them this passage, and engage them in who is the Lord, Jesus Christ. Now, it goes on to say, and the Word was God, and He was in the beginning with God. But you know, again, in this Gospel of John, in the first verse, there's something else where there's a bit of a repetition of three statements, just like the three we've just had. He's the Word, He's with God, and He was God. There's another three down in verse 14. So if you can track down the next slide, please. Verse 14, you'll see that they've started three more statements, and they go together with the three we've just looked at. And it talks about when people become Christians, you're born of God. But it says in verse 14, And the Word became flesh, flesh is a stand-in for human. It means, yes, the meat under your skin, but metaphorically, it's a stand-in for all that is human. It's a stand-in for human desires. The flesh can be a stand-in for sinful human, but not necessarily always so. But this one's telling us, the Word became flesh. And a part of what is necessary to believe, to be a Christian, isn't only that Jesus is God. If you've been taught in Sunday school that Jesus is God, they've done a good job. But they've only given you a part of the thing to be learned, because it also is the case that the Word became human. And when the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God, stepped down from heaven and took on humanity, that was such a step down that He took that He would be human. And then He began to relate to the Father as His Father God. I mean, God was His Father all the time, because of their relationship of Son and Father in eternity past. But nonetheless, He became a human who prayed. And when the disciples asked Him, how do you pray? He said to them, and to answer, pray, our Father who is in heaven. And one of the keys to answering the question as to how to be a prayerful person is that it's from earth to heaven. And you pray to the ones in heaven. You pray to the Father God in heaven. And one of the best prayers that someone can start with when they're wanting to become a Christian is a prayer that says, O Father God, I know that I have sinned. Please forgive me for all of my sin. Please make me clean in every part of wrong in me. Thank you that you sent your Son, the Word, to come into the world. And He took on humanity. And the reason why He did that, why He became flesh, it says in the next statement, this is number two of the second set of three, if you're actually catching what I'm saying, in verse 14, the Word became flesh. That's the first of the second set of three. The second is, and He dwelt amongst us. For the purpose of His taking on humanity was that He would be with us, that He would identify with us, that He would relate to us. The verse in the Bible, it talks about how there is one, who is between humans and God. There's only one mediator, one person that can get you through to the Father. There's only one mediator, the Bible says there is one mediator, and it is the man, Christ Jesus. And in His humanity that He became flesh, He became the one who was as much close to us as He was to the Father. Remember, He was face to face with God. Now, He's become flesh and dwelt amongst us. The actual word for dwelt there, was the word tabernacle. And in the Old Testament, the Jewish people used to wander around, and they dwelled in tabernacles, but then they made a tabernacle for God. And whenever they would journey, they would make sure that the thing that represented God, having the Ark of the Covenant and all the rest in it, was always in the middle. And all the tribes had to be put in different places around the outside of this tabernacle. And when they all got ready to move, they'd all stand up and the priests who were holding the tabernacle would be in the middle, and they always moved with God's symbol of His presence with them, with them in the middle of their very shifting. So when you go to another city, take Jesus with you, because a part of the purpose of His coming into the world was that He tabernacled amongst us, He dwelt amongst us, and He wants you to keep Him sensual in absolutely everything that you do. And we have seen His glory. This is the third of the three there in the second set of threes. We've seen His glory. The glory is of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And those two words, grace and truth, are descriptors of the very essence of the character of God. And Jesus, in the person that He is, has all that God is, coming, oozing out of Him, reflecting from Him, being what He is. He's full of grace and truth. They're the very characteristics of God. And if you put together the first three, in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, put that together with the second three that we've just had, and you'll find that those three match together. They're telling you about what you have to believe about Jesus to be a Christian. I've met people who talk about being Christians, but as they go on further in discussion, it comes to light more that they believe they're Christians because they read the Bible. Now, they're doing a good thing. They're following the advice of that pastor on the north side who's going to have a chapter of the Bible he'll help folk on the internet to read with him. If you read the Bible, yes, you're doing a Christian thing to do, but if you think you're a Christian just because you're biblical, you haven't yet read that Bible enough. Because the very passage that we're looking at today, these passages from John's Gospel, talk about the fact that you need to come to know Christ. There needs to be a moment when you have business, with Christ, and in our chapter 6 that we're looking at in John's Gospel, Jesus had gone on to talk about the fact that he said he's the bread from heaven. There'd been an Old Testament occasion when the Lord gave manna from heaven, the little pieces of white stuff that got them fed in the wilderness when there was nothing else to eat. They didn't know what it was, so their word manna actually means, what is it? But it was sustaining them through the wilderness. And they got to realise that God was giving bread from heaven, that they could have physical life. Well, Jesus picked that up as a metaphor for him to explain about how people can be blessed by him, how people could have his life. And he said, I am the bread from heaven. He who eats me will have life. He actually went on and said, he who drinks my blood will have life in him. As long as you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you'll have life in you. Do you know religious people sometimes get that all mixed up and they think it's something to do with the Communion when we have pieces of bread, and little glasslets of wine or grape juice, that when you eat that and drink that, you're somehow getting Christ. That's an idea that's a superstitious idea that came into the church later years on. There's nothing about the bread or the wine that is the actual body of Christ, but it is a metaphor that he's using when he says, this is my body which is broken for you. He's actually referring to how he took on humanity and he went to the cross, and he died on the cross, and he died on the cross for our sins. That's where his body was broken for us. And he's talking about his blood being that which will give us life. He's talking about the very person that he is. When you come and close with Jesus, I mean by that when you come and do business with Christ and take him to be your personal saviour, we use the wording to receive Christ, and what that's about is to receive him for how he was sent to be the saviour of the world. He didn't just come to believe in God and made you a Christian. No, he didn't just come that you might be a person that would relate to God alone. He wants you to be forgiven. He wants you to be cleansed. And for him to achieve that, he had to go to the cross. And so if we read through John's Gospel immediately after some of these chapters that I've been referring to, we get to the third chapter where there's another beautiful picture that Jesus draws just to give what the interpretation is and what it really means. What do you actually have to believe to become a Christian? And it's in chapter 3. And we've got it up on the screen now if you look there. No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven. This is Jesus talking to the Jewish people. He had a trouble convincing them that he'd come from heaven and that he was from the Father. And he says the Son of Man, that's him, Jesus. And he says, Jesus had to lift up the serpent, the snake in the wilderness. And there was an episode when they got bitten by a plague of snakes and they're all dying in the camp. And Moses plead with God that they should be somehow allowed to be healed and cured of the snake bites. And God said to Moses, you go and boil down some bronze or melt it down and make a bronze snake. I guess it took some time for him to do that. And put the bronze snake on a pole. And then stick it in the middle of the camp and go and tell the Israelites, the ones that are dying, to look at the snake. And if they look and believe, they'll be healed. And so here's this scene of all these dying Israelites. Some of them are crawling into their tents and just disregarding Moses and they just die. And some of them decide to give it a try and they're lying there in agony from the snake bite. And they look at that snake. They didn't understand it. They just were told by Moses, look and see that God has taken what's killing you and he's put it on that pile. You'll be cured. You'll be healed. You'll be cleansed. And those ones that looked at that bronze snake, they got healed. Now this is a part of what the Gospel of John is telling us that you have to believe to be a real Christian. It is him actually making clear with a metaphor what it is to receive Christ. For to receive Christ means that you accept him for yourself as to how he has been sent. He was sent to be the saviour of the world and his method of achieving it was by how he died on the cross for our sins. And when he bore our sins it was like the snake who represented all the poison on that pole. And the opportunity comes for us and this is what happened to me as a little boy of nine years of age. That the call came to me to look on Jesus and believe him to forgive my sins. And when you not only believe he's God, when you not only believe the Bible when you actually ask Jesus to forgive your sins, when you, I used the wording before, when you close with Jesus as the saviour, it means that you recognise why God sent him into the world and you come to him and say, I want you, Lord, to be my saviour. That's what it means to close with Jesus as your personal saviour. And that's when a person becomes a Christian. Actually that day, that Sunday afternoon, a man who led council, my older brother and I, he actually led us in a prayer, but if I were to meet him in heaven, I'd have to tell him he was a bit slow at doing it because I got in the door about five minutes ahead of him doing the prayer bit. It happened when I moved that leg and began to walk toward the front and made a step to close with Jesus to let him be my personal saviour. That moment I got in the door with God. I knew it too, although I let the man lead me in the prayer because it summed up what I was doing by responding. When you close with God, Jesus in the talk he's giving in chapter 6, when you get home, read chapter 6, he's talking about his body being good food and his flesh being good to eat and his blood being good to give you life. He's talking metaphorically. It isn't just your belief in your head. It isn't just your behaviour of your life and your learning to go to church. It's not all those outward things. It is when you take him to be personally related to and you let him successfully get through to you to be your personal saviour. Sometimes we use the language of you come to know Jesus as your own personal saviour. Or like one African man that I greatly admired used to ask everybody, do you love the Lord Jesus as your own personal saviour? I was referring to him the other Sunday. Something happens between you and Jesus. You've closed with Jesus. Closed I mean you've come and you haven't let him escape. You've asked him to be to you what he came into the world to do and to be, what he came and died on the cross to achieve. You've asked him for the forgiveness that he bore our sins to let happen. And you ask him whether you word it in a prayer or not is not the case. What really counts is that there is from you a call to Jesus to be your own personal saviour. That's what a Christian is. And I've met many people who always assumed they were Christians because they went to a church, because they had Christian parents, because they'd sung the hymns, because they'd served the Lord. Like one minister who had me come to, in Tasmania to speak at his church. This minister, you know, at the end of it all I went back to his house. He lived in a very distant place and he had a little thing bed for me to sleep on. I could barely fit in it. But I never hardly got there very quickly because I was tired and wanted to, but he wanted to talk. But what he wanted to talk about was the fact that in the message I'd been talking to them like I'm talking to you. I'd been talking about getting to become a Christian by being born again and he didn't really know whether he had. There was nothing to look back at. He hadn't ever closed with Christ. Closed, S-C-L-O-S-E-D. And had the assurance that he and Jesus had done business together. He'd come to Jesus as Saviour. It hadn't really happened. Sometimes that occurs because the teaching of the church doesn't have it full enough to make clear how you actually get in the door. And there are people in lots of different churches. You'd be staggered at the amount of people when you're a travelling preacher who come and ask you questions, especially if they know you're going to go away again. So they open up a bit more and tell you their secrets. But who end up saying they don't really know that they've gotten in the door. It's probably the most important New Year's resolution you could make is to deal with that uncertainty you might have had for years. There are people who try and repress. Oh yes, I must be a Christian. I've been in the church a long time. I've done this and I've got all sorts of reasons. But if you've not said and settled who you are with Jesus, then the best New Year's resolution you could make is to come to him and lay it all on the table and say, Jesus, I need you. So let me know I belong to you, that you've come. That verse in Revelation 3.20 that I love, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone can hear my voice and will open the door, I will come in and on and up And fellowship with him, and he with me. And there is a sense of fellowship that you have with Jesus, and you know it's done. You know it's happened. You know you're there. No one could have convinced me that I didn't have Jesus after that day. After that afternoon. After the days that followed of reading through the Gospel of John, for the more I read in the Gospel of John, the more it spoke of Jesus there. And there's some connection between the written word of God and the living word of the Lord Jesus himself. And the more you read of him in the Gospels, the more somehow your security grows. That's the reason why I think the John's Gospels got all those chapters. Because following up to make you a Christian who's a disciple is more than just say a prayer and forget about it. It's a business of going deeper and learning further and getting more secure. And that happens chapter after chapter as you go deeper in the word of God. So a New Year's resolution to say, I'm going to read through like the Gospel of John, one chapter a day. And ask God to speak to me and teach me more. That could be maybe the best New Year's resolution someone here could make. Well, I've almost finished, but I'm almost there. And we go on reading in that chapter 6 of John's Gospel. And we read not only the facts that there are some people who went away. But what was interesting, Jesus let the crowds go. He didn't worry about the fact that some people haven't cottoned on properly at all. But he was concerned for those who were his actual disciples, the twelve. And so he turns to them. Now they haven't left. Some of them might have even been thinking about leaving, but they haven't left. And, so Jesus turns to them and he says, What about you? Will you leave also? What that tells me is that Jesus is aware of the facts that those of us who really have come to Christ, who really have closed with Jesus. I'm using that language that you've actually received him and he and you have got a thing going. Those people nonetheless can get dissuaded, that they can get upset, that they can get problems come. And they can be somehow, are stressed so that they do think about leaving. Who knows? There's someone sitting listening to me now and you in the back of your mind have wondered how long can you continue going along with this Christian ideas? Or is there something else that's going on that's pulling you away and you don't know which to choose? Jesus said to the disciples, will you also leave? Because he's aware of the fact that true disciples do have their ups and downs and do have times, when they do feel like giving it all in. But the answer they get is really interesting. I really like this. I'm reading. Do you want to go away as well? And Simon Peter, thank you for dear old Peter. He's always quick to have an answer and I'm glad he's such an extrovert to blurt out something and help us. Lord, to whom shall we go? Then we go to the next slide. Whom should we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God. Peter is basically saying who where else can we go? No one else has got the words of eternal life. I had when I was only 25 a crusade up in Papua New Guinea because they kept asking me up there to speak at their youth camps and different things in the church. They had a group of singers and these singers had a favourite song, Maranatha. The Lord has come or the Lord will come. And they were called the Maranatha singers and they had quite a following of people who liked the way they sang. It was a group and they decided to have a week of meetings of them giving concerts. And then the pastor of the place got the idea. Well, we'll have to do that. Yes, but we'll ask Jim to come back and preach. The pastor turned it into a crusade where I got to preach every night. And it was quite a time of revival in that place. God stepped in and there were people that came to Christ in rather dramatic ways. And you knew it wasn't just anything. I just used some of my old sermons, but it wasn't the sermons. There was something God was doing. And you know that church was such a joyful place and such a fellowship so strong. Many of the people who was just to the people. And it was a period of time, 1975, I think, when they're going to get their independence. And there are a lot of folk who came from Australia who went up there to work. But then because of the independence changing the era, their time of being up there would come to an end and they come back to Australia. So a number of the folk who enjoyed the richness of the fellowship of that church. And it was probably the most richly fellowshipping church I've ever had anything to do with. I want to tell you the sense of the presence of God was fantastic. And the friendships and the fellowship were really strong. And when they left and came back to Australia, they had the problems. They couldn't find any equivalent church as good. And I ended up meeting different ones of them around Australia, different places, because they couldn't find another church the same as the other one. They actually decided to have a yearly fellowship where they'd all get together. And they invited me to come as to speak in it. And it was held this time. It was held this time at Victor Harbour in South Australia. But what I had to tell them is, well, maybe you can't find another place where God revivalistically has done so well as he'd done in Barocco. But what you can do is see you as an opportunity to bring fellowship to all other churches. Rather than looking for somewhere to make you feel wonderful again, make it your goal to go to other churches and to ask the Lord to use you to instil a fellowship that other people might experience something the same. And I think that would also be a good New Year's revolution. We've actually been doing that this year. The way we've changed the Higher Grounds Cafe out in the back and the way we're doing some other things is because we suddenly realised that fellowship was so important, especially when it's not just fellowship in the sense of like-mindedness or fellowship in the sense of nice activities or giving people hugs alone. They're nice, but hugs alone is not what we're really talking about. We're talking about that oneness in Christ. That sense of the presence of Jesus is there when you go to church. That's something that some churches don't have much of and others have more. And the one in Barocco was one just that was so rich in the sense of the closeness of Jesus. It was a wonderful thing to go and preach there because all sorts of things happened and you thought you were very successful, but it wasn't me. It was what God was doing in the church and it was wonderful to know that such a thing could be reproduced elsewhere. And I was encouraging these people to see their mission, maybe their New Year's resolution, to be, they had it near the end of the year, to not look for that extra fellowship again as much as to expect God to do it somewhere new. You be the one that takes it there. You be the one that decides to work on a few people that you see are lonely. You be the one that asks the Lord to do something so that there is that sense of his presence. And that's what I think God was saying then and I think it is what God is saying now. That we've struck on something good in our church by emphasising the fellowship side of things. It's also in the home groups. It's something that is a wonderful thing and of course it will get tested. The evil one sees how we're doing and he'll throw a few spanners in over the wall. It's what the devil does whenever anything gets successful. He tries to pull it down and get people concentrated. He tries to get people concentrating on the wrong things or get people too cranky about little matters that don't count. But listen, if we take the opportunity and increase that which God has given us to do, believing in the power of fellowship, our church is going to keep on growing and it's going to keep on succeeding and we will get rid of all the things eventually that have caused us all the heartaches across the many years. And we've done that over a few as some of you may know. God is in the business of blessing church. And I believe that we're in the right business of believing in the power of Christian fellowship as one of the keys of doing it. Where does that power of Christian fellowship come from? It comes from the Word of God. And where a group of people meet around the declaration of the expositor Word of God, that's what produces the fellowship. And when they call on the Holy Spirit to help them to participate and they believe in the presence of Jesus amongst us and they believe in the presence of Jesus amongst us and they ask Him to show, what's my gift? What could I do? How could I help? Or is there a person that I could get alongside? When we begin to do those things, this is going to be a blessed place to be in. 2024, Salisbury Baptist Church, a blessed place to be in. Why? Because the Word of God will define Christianity well and because the Holy Spirit will give us that fellowship together that will prove to be true. That will prove to be powerful and effective. Let's have a moment of prayer. Heavenly Father, I thank you for the new year that's coming. I thank you, Father, for this little passage in John 6. There were some there who didn't understand Jesus talking about having to eat His flesh and drink His blood. They didn't understand enough of the Word of God. They didn't know that Jesus cared more about them closing in relationship with Him. Not just being religious. Lord, if there's someone here who needs to close with Jesus and do business with Him, may that happen today. Somehow, personally, that they'll find the Lord. Lord, help us in 2024 that we'll be a place where you'll be pleased to reveal yourself to folk and to help us to be a fellowship that makes you central. We ask in your name. Amen.

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