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From Pete 7th April:
Dear Riverside Church Family,
In the midst of great affliction, the writer of Lamentations says this; "Because of the LORD's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion and; therefore I will wait for him'."
I have been really encouraged and spurred on having spoken with so many of you and having heard about many others whose attitude to the present trials matches that of the verses above. Praise God that so many of Riverside church are waiting upon God for His help, for the strength that He offers, for the comfort we so need and for the vision to live gospel shaped lives making the most of the situations we find ourselves in.
To aid you in this we are posting regularly on the "Riverside Church Hull" YouTube channel, you can see the videos here or
Mondays we post a reflection on the Sunday morning sermon, Tuesdays the next installment of the memory verses we are learning as a family from Hebrews, Wednesday a reflection from Psalm 119, Thursday some content aimed at the whole church family, and on Fridays we have the bible reading and a prayer to prepare us for the next Sunday morning service.
Yesterday I posted a reflection on the excellent sermon on prayer that Melvin preached from Luke 11 on Sunday. If you haven't already please go and watch it and continue to wait upon God as a church family as we chew over and seek to obey God's word together.
Press on and live for him by His Spirit that lives within you!
From Pete, 30th March: To watch this as a video click here
I’m continuing to pray for you all, and it’s been really really encouraging as I’ve spoken to many of you over the last week or so just to hear how you’re all praying for the Riverside Church family as well. Thank you for phoning people so much, for phoning one another and thank you too for meeting many needs that have arisen as a result of those phone calls and I pray that we would continue to do that as the days and weeks and possibly even months roll in.
I wanted to thank you as well because I know that many people in the Riverside Church family have already been engaging with the sermons and the services on a Sunday with the central meeting, with the kids stuff that’s been made available by Kay, Heather and Sam as well. And also even many of us have bravely ventured onto Zoom to try and do our home groups there, with varying degrees of success but we’ve started and we will improve as we go on. Thank you for doing that it’s so important that we continue to learn together and continue to encourage one another at the minute.
And so, every Monday, I plan to post a short video on this channel just reflecting on the sermon that we heard on Sunday morning. Yesterday, Scott was preaching on Luke 8:1–15, the sower sowing the seed to the different types of soil. Scott finished with a great illustration of a stormy sea in which people were drowning and screaming and struggling but in the middle of that sea there was a rock with a platform surrounding it and people were safe, people on that platform were safe, they were saved from the storm. And actually there were some people on that platform reaching out to bring more people onto that platform, some were even diving in and trying to grab a few others and bring them up as well. Now that’s a lovely picture of Christians who have been saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ wanting to proclaim that gospel to others, wanting to see other people saved at the moment. And as I listened to that sermon, one of my greatest desires was that Riverside Church would be turned into a crack team of gospel rescuers. Now how could that happen? Well as we’ve started going through this sermon the first big challenge to us was to be good sowers of God’s word, good sowers of the gospel. Now Scott immediately acknowledged that the ground is hard, and it is hard, it is a hard society to speak the gospel in. And at the moment with what this virus is doing to people, well surely the ground is softer than it normally is. People are thinking, people are seeking, people are even praying at present. And so the ground is hard, but maybe at the moment it is just a little bit softer than usual. And so, the exhortation of the sermon was to sow, sow, sow, was to sow liberally, was to speak the gospel to whoever will listen. And that is a great challenge and that is a great encouragement for us to do.
Scott said this; he said ‘A Christian must be a sower’. Now I agree and I would like to add to that, we’ve just been doing our series on the church and so we want to say that Christians must be sowers but we want to say Riverside Church it must be a sowing church, we want to sow together. And so, one of the applications I’d like to ask you to pray, I’d like to ask you to pray for a minute – we’ve pushed the pause button on lots of our events and lots of our structures. Could you pray at the minute about our guest services and our family services? Could you pray about our door to door work? Could you pray about the evangelistic events that we run? Could you pray about our mini music, our ABC and our partnership with the school, the clubs and so on that we run? Could you pray about the seniors work? Could you pray at the minute that we would have great discernment to know how to make all those things more fruitful, more productive at sowing the gospel into people’s lives so that when we press the unpause button, we are in better shape to be these type of sowers, could you pray about that? And as you have good ideas, share them and we will get sharper and we will be a better church at sowing the gospel, better sowers together.
But also personally, we want to be people who speak the gospel to those around us. Whether that’s on social media, or with our neighbours that we can just chat across the road to, or especially in Riverside your family members who aren’t Christians – many wives whose husbands or partners aren’t Christians. We want to be people who keep going. And the encouragement from the sermon was that God’s word will bear fruit. So we must keep sowing, sowing, sowing.
So on a very practical note, how do we do that? How could we get the gospel to our neighbours in those just casual conversations that we have? Well, what I think that we should be doing is just trying to testify to the peace and the assurance that we have in Jesus Christ in a time of great anxiety. I think if we manage to say that to our neighbours, if we manage to post those things on social media, if we manage to say those things to our family, then that will be a great foundation that may well lead to much deeper gospel conversations. So can I ask you to pray that we will do that together, that we will testify to the peace that we have in Christ, even in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.
So there’s two applications from how to be a good sower that I’d love you to partner in at the moment.
But the second bit was about being good soil. And to be good soil we need to receive God’s word immediately, gladly, deeply and then fruitfully. So if you’re not a Christian, if you’re just like a friend of Riverside- you come along but you’re not a Christian yet- look you know enough, Jesus Christ died for you, he rose again and he’s coming back, you know enough. This should humble you; it has humbled all of us, we are not as advanced as we thought we were, we can’t control many things in life, let this period of life humble you so that you come to Christ and accept him. Bring your sins to him and admit you need his forgiveness, allow this period of time to humble you enough so that you come and accept Christ and become part of the family.
And if you’re a Christian, well then let us press on in listening to the sermons, in reading God’s word and then doing what it says. We want to be devoted to God’s word; we want to be devoted to one another because of our devotion to God’s word. So Sunday, it was an old sermon, but one of the things that listening to an old sermon does, it takes the focus off the pastor and the minister as the action man, as the man that’s going to help us in our need. And it puts the focus right back on God’s word, it is God’s word that we want to be nourished by at the minute, that we want to be fed by.
So Riverside Church, can I encourage you to be good soil. Listen to the word and do what it says- by God’s help with the Holy Spirit living in you. Thank you for listening: please pray about these things, please ring others and talk about these things and God will continue to mould us, continue to shape us, for his glory, for our good- in the days, week and months to come. Thank You.
From Peter, 22nd March:
Dear Riverside Church family
In the light of much world-wide fear and anxiety that comes as a result of the continued spread of the Coronavirus, it is great to be able to write to you and remind you of the confidence God’s people can have because of Jesus Christ. Romans 8 would be a great part of scripture for us all to read or listen to, meditate upon, and pray through at this time. Here are a few highlights; And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you belong to Jesus Christ, if you have come to him for forgiveness and new life, then whatever the anxieties that society around us has, we can know that we are utterly secure in the arms of a God who loves us so much he went to the cross to save us. A God who, since he gave us his own Son, will certainly not fail to give us anything else that we need for day to day life. A God who is working all things for our good and His glory. If you have never come to Jesus then now is an excellent time to do it, he will not turn you away, instead he will bring you into this close, secure relationship with the living God in whose hand all things are.
You will already have heard from Melvin that from tomorrow, all of our gatherings are on hold while we wait for further advice from the government. In reality, this will mean an extended time where we cannot rely on face to face meetings for teaching, prayer, encouragement and day to day help and support. Our Sunday meetings will be replaced by a single live-streamed service that will air for all the congregations of St Johns, St Faiths and Riverside on the website at 10.30am and will be repeated at 6.30pm. If you are unsure how to access this or even what ‘streaming’ means, then that is the first thing that you can get some practical help with. Please tell us!
The regular encouragement and support that we are able to give to each other face to face does also need to be replaced or else we will find it increasingly harder to stand on the promises of God’s word rather than be panicked by the worries of the world around us. To that end, the leadership team at Riverside have put structures into place ensuring that everyone in the church family will be contacted each week and any needs highlighted and acted upon. But that by itself will not be enough because it doesn’t fit the model of church we have been learning about in our recent sermon series. In 1 Corinthians 12 we learnt that every one of us has a ministry of grace to carry out to our brothers and sisters and so it is vital that, with God’s strength, we show real love to one another by taking time to ring each other, pray for each other, and deliberately speak words of encouragement from scripture to one another over the coming days and weeks.
So if you are in a Home group, your leader will make sure you have contact details of the other members and we would encourage you to make daily use of them to honour God. If you are a member of Tuesday group then make full use of the structured Tuesday mornings that they have planned for you to be involved in at home. If you are not in one of these groups and have a particular member of church you would like to contact then please get in touch with Peter Birnie (07773967975) and he will make sure you have what you need (by first checking with people that they are happy to have their contact details shared).
There are so many chances for us to grow in our love for God and our devotion to each other in the trials that lie ahead. Please do not hide any needs you have because that will deprive the church family of the much needed opportunity to serve one another and so grow in maturity. Instead, be prayerful, be open and honest, and be confident that God is indeed working His purposes out. We are very keen to finish our sermon series on the Church and so look out for upcoming videos and resources that will allow us to continue to feed together on God’s word and continue to live as the Temple of God, the Family of God and the Bride of Christ in a dark world that needs us to shine.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Rms 8v17
With love and prayer,
Peter Birnie and the leadership team