Summary: The Bible says: 'Encourage one another'. So many people believe that if there is a God, He could not, should not love. If salvation is possible, that they are 'not good enough to be saved'. That they are unworthy or too sinful. This is a lie of the devil.
OT – 2nd Samuel 9:1-13
NT – Matthew 5 verses 11-16
Sermon: No dead dogs to God
‘I feel like a dog!’
So someone said ‘How long have you felt like that?’
The answer was ‘Since I was a puppy!’.
I know things are bad for many people.
None of us and economists
but we are all familiar now with words like, recession, economic depression, structural unemployment, deficit,
and the role that the Treasury, the Bank of England,
the International Monetary Fund play in our lives,
and although we have pounds in our pockets or purses,
we have been told that the future of the Euro is as important to us
and it is to the Greeks, the Portuguese and the Irish.
We know things are bad,
and that it is nearly 50 years since Harold MacMillan who,
when Prime Minister, said “We have never had it so good”,
but in spite of the bad news that is going around
and many British service men and women have been killed and injured
in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
for the most part, we have seen half a century of peace and prosperity.
Most of us have colour TV, videos, DVDs, cars, dishwashers, microwave ovens.
fridge-freezers, double glazing, central heating, tumble dryers,
and, of course, the internet.
There is a minimum wage,
and pensions mean retired people can have a decent standard of living.
Most of us have decent homes to live in,
and many people take foreign holidays, some even more than one per year.
Children dress in designer gear and have expensive toys and mobile phones
There are very few “old bangers” on the roads
and many houses have conservatories and extensions.
There is nothing wrong with ‘Things’,
but are people happy?
How many happy smiling faces do you see in the shops and the streets?
Proverbs 15:13 says
"When people are happy, they smile;
but when they are sad, they look depressed".
Why do so many young people brought up in a land free from rationing and war
need to take drugs or drink in order to find happiness?
Why is the abortion rate in this country, the highest in Europe?
Why is our teenage pregnancy rate the highest in the world?
Why is Scotland the heart attack centre of the world?
Why do so many young people aged about 25-30 commit suicide?
Obviously material prosperity does not guarantee happiness.
According to a recent survey of religious belief and practice,
only 7% of the population of the UK will be in a church this morning.
An article in the Daily Telegraph published around Christmas
says according to new research for a Poll commissioned by Reader's Digest
only 64% believe in God,
only 58% believe in an after-life ,
and only 46% of adults questioned knew why Christians celebrated Easter;
Many people still like to call themselves "Christian"
especially when going into hospital
or planning for a relative's funeral,
but it seems that the majority of people have turned away
from "organised religion" and regular church-going,
but people need to hear the Good News
as much today as at any time in the past,
because it is relevant for all times,
times of peace and plenty as well as times of war and hardship.
As a school teacher I come across many children who have “low self esteem”.
Many were told by their parents that they were “accidents”,
and they were not joking, and the kids hurt from the rejection
and this is why many become bullies and discipline problems
and end up on drugs or in jail.
I have taken some Tuesday evening services in Bowhouse Prison,
and from talking to some of the men either on remand
or serving sentences,
it is obvious that some have had a raw deal from childhood,
which is why they feel bitter, and do anti-social things.
Unhappiness and low self-esteem can be seen in today's OT reading.
The incidents described there happened over 3000 years ago
but I believe the message the reading contains is relevant for many people today.
It contains a lovely example of how the life and circumstances and prospects
of an unhappy, rejected person,
can be changed, turned upside down, for the better.
Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, the grandson of Saul.
David had been friendly with Jonathan, but Saul had hated David,
because of David’s popularity with the people.
The more God blessed David and helped him in his battles against the Philistines
the more Saul despised him.
David had not wanted to fight Saul, because he knew that after Samuel's death,
Saul had become "God's anointed";
but because of the king's madness and jealousy,
he was forced to defend himself against him,
and when Saul died, David became the king of Israel.
Imagine that your grandfather had been a hated dictator,