19 Feb 2013

Stornoway Evangelistic Services

The Stornoway RP congregation were blessed to be able to hold four evangelistic services between Friday the 18th and Sunday the 20th of January.  There was fantastic attendance from different denominations, particularly on Friday when the Mission House was packed to capacity.  We are very grateful to Rev K. Stewart for taking these services and providing us with a great deal of spiritual nourishment.

On Friday evening Rev. Stewart preached on Luke chapter 14 and centred around the Heavenly Feast which we are all urged to attend.  Mr Stewart pointed out that we are shocked at those in the narrative who have come to the banquet: those who were invited and had promised to come found excuses but those compelled at the last minute were the ones who found themselves in attendance.  In the earthly feast the pharisee made the mistake of only inviting people of the same class and creed as himself, Jesus rebuked him for this snobbish and exclusive church life.  We were reminded to let nothing matter and just be one with the children of God.  In the Heavenly feast God gives the provision He alone can make – He is not only the host but the very sustenance our souls cry out for.  Being born in the covenant is like receiving a personal invitation to the banquet but we must look past every other Christian and look to Christ to accept it.  Mr Stewart left us with the message that the Christian life is the life worth living in the knowledge that the greatest provision in the universe has been made for our soul.  All we have to do is accept the invitation.

The second service, on Saturday night, was on Isaiah 1.  We were challenged to examine ourselves individually and ask where was our sense of mortality before God?  The people in this passage had such warped ideas of what was right that what was truly evil became good in their eyes.  Mr. Stewart noted that the peoples sins were aggravated by three things:
(1) Rebellion – The sins of a covenant child who has turned their back on God are much more serious than the sins of those who have never heard.  We are accountable for what we do with our birthright.
(2) Stupidity – The sinner is compared to an ox or donkey which is stereotypically stupid, yet it knows its master.  God is not bound to give us anything but we take from him and expect him to provide us with everything.
(3) Stubbornness – Nothing brought the people to their senses but at the end of the day God will show us where we could, and ought to have gone.
Sin is compared to scarlet or crimson which shows their visiblity; those who try to cover their sins will not prosper.  When God comes into our life it is impossible to hide them any more, he will bring them before us in all their vibrant colour.  Christ will wash away our guilt with his blood and cleanse our soul with water – we will be perfectly white in glory.

Mr. Stewart preached on the theme of judgement on Sunday morning.  He took his text from Luke 17 which connects the days of Noah and Lot with the second coming.  His return will be to a world that is pathetic and careless for the most part.  It will be a terrible coming; one group will embrace him while another flee him.  In the days of Noah the world was under a death sentence with no realisation – as in Lots time the day of destruction was fixed and appointed.  The same goes for the second coming, only the father knows the hour.  Each of the judgements were proclaimed before they happened.  Noah preached the flood and called the people to the ark for refuge.  Lot tried to change Sodom but it began to change him, he only escaped by the skin of his teeth.  We are given preachers to teach about the final judgement and the reality of Heaven and Hell.  Mr. Stewart reminded us that unless we have God we have nothing and the destruction of Sodom is a painful symbol of what the world will become.  The final message of the service was keep going: don’t be infected by the world.  His judgement awaits us all, let us not flee away from him but flee to him.

The final service was on Nicodemus and the second birth, focusing particularly on John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”  Fear clung to Nicodemus, but God’s people will always be outed.  Nicodemus was a pharisee, a teacher and a ruler.  He was intelligent yet ignorant of the true essence of God.  We must humble ourselves to come into the kingdom of God, he will call us by name and we respond to his voice.  Unless we are born again we will not see the kingdom or be a part of it.  We were reminded that all our sinful beings can do is sin and a radical change is needed.  God made the provision of the son of man which makes the new birth possible.  To look on him is to live.

Gemma Macdonald, Stornoway RPCS