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The Four Knots

26 December 2010
Introduction

Pieces of string

Verses from the AV each of which contains the word ‘not’


• Fear Not
1
But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour Isaiah 43.1-3a

What are you most afraid of? (I suppose if you were Australian, it
would be Jimmy Anderson). In my case it is probably skiing. What is
so frightening about skiing? The loss of control!

Relate the story….

We fear what we can’t control or influence, hence we’re all, to some


extent, afraid of the future. Which is why New Year can, like
Christmas, be a difficult time for some as none of us knows what will
happen in 2011. One thing that we can be sure of in 2011 is that God
will remain faithful to His promises.
Almost 42 per cent of men interviewed said they would be less attracted to their
girlfriend if they gained half a stone in weight.

And five per cent even said they would consider ending the relationship
altogether.

Women, on the other hand, appear to be less shallow.

Only seven per cent admitted they would find their partner significantly less
attractive if they were to gain weight.

Source: SlimWeight Patch


It is something of a cliché, but that expression ‘Fear not’ appears in
the bible 366 times. It is nevertheless very significant and highly re-
assuring. Bishop Robert traced the observation of Corrie Ten Boom
and I’d love to have the reference should anybody be able to locate it.
Whatever, our first not provides us with great comfort.

Quote Barry Webb BSP p.175

Douglas Brainsfather Cartoon


• Faint not
1
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose
heart. …..8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but
not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
10
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of
Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always
being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in
our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
2 Corinthians 4.1, 8-
12

This not would probably be good verse for would be Triathletes for if
I learnt one thing from my rather leisurely travels around the Isle of
Dogs in July it was the importance of maintaining an adequate intake
of energy so that one’s body does not stop working

All of us have a point at which our physical resources are spent (It’s
usually Christmas Day  ). This applies spiritually as much as it
does physically. But the bible is full of promises of God’s strength
and provision.

2 Corinthians was Paul’s most personal epistle and God’s strength in


weakness is one of its keynotes

Ch.1
8
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles
we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far
beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt
we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely
on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Ch.4

Ch.12

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in


my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the
Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for
you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
There is more going on in 2 Corinthians that simply a testimony by
Paul to God’s strength being given I difficult circumstances – it’s a
whole philosophy of ministry – nevertheless, the witness to God’s
grace is there and it is a huge encouragement (though not to be
interpreted woodenly as it if a faithful Christian will never have a
breakdown or become depressed)
In every condition, in sickness, in health;
In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,


For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove


My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

Quote Ken Longman Christmas letter

And so in 2011 let us keep going on in the strength of the Lord


• Fret Not
1
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
2
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.
3
Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4
Take delight in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
6
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
7
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.
8
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.
10
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
though you look for them, they will not be found.
11
But the meek will inherit the land
and enjoy peace and prosperity. Psalm 37.1-11

When I first looked for this verse I went straight to Matthew 6 – Do


not worry - but was disappointed. Though the meaning would be the
same, I am glad that the words weren’t used because without this ‘not’
my sermon might be starting to sound a bit like a self-help manual or a
course in positive thinking (talking of which, did you hear on Radio
4’s Today programme about the businessman in Birmingham who had
called in a hypnotist to convince his staff that they were warm?!)
This not – the fret not - is linked not to a personal utopia, but God’s
will being done and God’s kingdom coming. After all, that’s what we
really ought to be worried about It’s about faithful living carried
along by the faith that God is, ultimately, in control.

How God’s sovereign control works in practice I cannot say and


Christians have always debated how divine sovereignty can be
balanced with human responsibility and hence free will.

For myself, the best explanation I have come across was by Michael
Green, once Rector of St Ebbe’s Church in Oxford and a prolific
writer Christian books. He compares God to a chess player who, by
superior skill, will eventually defeat all that is evil. It’s a powerful
image.

c.f. Val Grieve

Israeli chess player, Alec Gershon


Alik Gershon, 30, took title after a 19-hour marathon match against 523 players
whose row of tables snaked across a Tel Aviv square. He won 454, lost 11 and
drew 58. Alik Gershon started on Thursday and finished overnight His 86%
win rate also outstripped the former record holder, grandmaster Morteza
Mahjoob of Iran. Mr Mahjoob last year bested 397 out of 500 chess players in
Tehran.

The new record holder acknowledged the strained relations between the two
regional powers, but expressed a wish for peace. "Hopefully all our wars will be
on the chess board, or something cultural, and not real wars," Mr Gershon
said.But he did admit that breaking an Iranian record was a "big bonus" for
Israel.
• Forget Not
1
Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalm 103.1,2

Trying to remember things is never an easy thing to do. I’ve tried


notebooks, writing on my hand, emailing myself etc. Nothing is ever
100% effective. Hence

Kay’s Christmas cake


John’s Birthday
Names at Communion

Perhaps knots in a piece of string might work as well as anything?

However, here is one thing that we should always try and remember –
all the good things that God has given. According to Psalm 103

forgiveness
healing (present and future)
rescue
love and compassion

Like writing those Christmas ‘thank you’ letters, remembering to


praise and worship the Lord is not always the easiest of things to do –
which is why the Psalmist has to tell themselves – and us - to do it.
However, for the Christian, praise is both a duty and – when we get
going – a delight.
Better even than a daily dose of aspirin
c.f. Bible reading initiative