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Sun, Sep 10, 2017
10-Sep PM; Gen. 6: 9-22 & 8:6-21
Sun, Sep 10, 2017
10-Sep AM; Deut. 6: 13 - 25
Sun, Sep 03, 2017

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The opportunity to be part of something special from ground zero takes a lot of beating.  Starry eyed idealism is no substitute, though, for a real life understanding of what we may have let ourselves in for. The benefits seem clear enough but they can obscure the level of personal commitment demanded in the task if we are to make the most of the opportunity that’s available.

Who do you resemble the most – the person who jumps forward to be first off the blocks for the newest and latest or someone who’s always got a reason to put things off?  Whatever we are really like, however we behave – there’s one thing that’s clear: building the Kingdom of God will demand real commitment and it’s not something which can take second place to anything or anyone else.

Sun, Sep 03, 2017
03-Sep AM; Luke 15:11-32
Sun, Aug 27, 2017

Some things are pretty clear from the outset, others need significant consideration before we commit to doing anything. 

Fear can often leave us rejecting what might be a perfectly reasonable course of action. If rejection is taking things too far, we might try to avoid a decision in the hope that it all goes away or put tests in place to confirm the decision down to the finest detail.

There’s a strong element of fear running through this story with very good reason. Although God has confirmed his calling, Gideon needs to really grasp it in his own mind even though his first steps in clearing out the spiritual rubbish have proved very successful. What steps do we need to take to ensure we are walking by faith?

Sun, Aug 20, 2017

It’s not all plain sailing even once you’ve set your course to follow the master You can get blown off course by listening to or by following some very plausible people. They come with the right credentials and speak the “in house” language. Trouble is, their own lives don’t stack up to the lofty ideals of their words it’s question of “do what I say and ignore what I do.” It all comes back to prayer. Prayer helps us to determine the rights and wrongs of particular actions because it reveals the will of God. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.

Sun, Aug 20, 2017

Sports fans generally have strong views on who should be picked to play for “their” team.  Although we all have our favourites, the best team is normally a mixture of tried and tested maturity, alongside up and coming talent with clear potential.

Gideon doesn’t have a track record and, nor on first sight – with him threshing grain in a small wooden box under an oak tree– does he appear to be the stuff of potential legend.

As is often the case with the people God uses (that’s you and me too), appearances can be deceptive. Even though he is the least of his family and his family is the weakest of all the tribes, his willingness to follow God’s lead make him the deliverer Israel needs.

Sun, Aug 13, 2017

Given the means and the opportunity, most of us like to make the lives of others easier or better. Very few people will promise to help then turn up with something that goes beyond a sick joke – you wouldn’t give your 5 year old a house brick when he asks for a bread roll, would you?

If that’s how generous we are prepared to be – often with limited resources – just imagine what it is like to be truly blessed by God. God does not withhold His gifts  but is willing to share them. We just have to ask, making sure that it is really what we need, not simply what we want.

Sun, Aug 13, 2017

Desperate times demand desperate measures.

A failure to follow God’s instructions to the letter, alongside a wilful determination to sort things out in their own way, led Israel deeper into trouble. Eighteen years is a long time by anyone’s counting but that’s what it took to bring these people to their senses. Then, a hero emerges. He’s ready to strike the decisive blow even if it means putting his own life at risk by infiltrating the enemy’s defences. Inspiring the scattered people, a famous victory was achieved.

When we step forward for God, are we more likely to count the personal cost rather than see the bigger picture? Are we ready to use our skill and the opportunities we’re given to get to the place (both physically and spiritually) where God wants us to be?

Sun, Aug 06, 2017

Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5 – 7 is commonly referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a description of the personal character as well as the public commitment required of every believer if we are to see the Kingdom of God expressed through the church.

Given our human tendency to rank, list or otherwise take sideways glances at other people, Jesus reminds us that it is not our place to judge the spiritual condition of anyone else apart from ourselves.  Whilst it is important to be able to recognise the difference between right and wrong and to act accordingly, that doesn’t mean that we should inflict our perspective onto or into the lives of others.

It’s a matter of being wise, sensitive and realistic – and of being able to deal with our own “issues” before we presume to address the more minor concerns of everyone else.

Sun, Aug 06, 2017

Things have come to a pretty pass when a man's religion begins to interfere with his private life(*).

Is it really possible to claim to believe in God yet behave in such a way as to suggest that your goals are really only set at meeting your own needs? Is God really concerned at what we bring into doing “church” as well as what we take away from it?

Contemporary concerns mirror OT history. In settled times it’s easy to drift if you are not one of the pioneers of a new life. The drift doesn’t have to be a quantum leap but is as easy as ABC – abandoning, blending, confusing. The big question is how this move might be addressed. and who will lead us through it.

(* Lord Melbourne, UK Prime Minister the time of Victoria’s accession as Queen of England)

Sun, Jul 23, 2017

Does it matter what we do? Can those things we put real effort and substantial resources into save our souls? What should be top of the priorities – who we believe or how we express our faith?

Without dismissing the nature or the importance of the law, Paul makes it clear that only faith saves but a holy life (works) is the fruit of a life committed to God. In other words, works represent faith being the fruit of our belief, they do not produce it.

The evidence Paul presents is indisputable: he has history on his side (Abraham and God’s Covenant), as well the immediacy of the readers’ own experiences and faith stories. Above all, it is Christ’s work on the cross which frees us from the condemning of the law, whilst at the same time bringing us total freedom to live as God’s children.

Sun, Jul 23, 2017

The walls may be built and the doors in place but the work doesn’t finish when one job is complete. A rebuilt city is little use without a reconstructed nation.

Here, as elsewhere, the example has to begin at the top if God’s vision is to be fully realised. Nehemiah’s choice for two key posts isn’t simply a matter of administration – it reflects the ability of the individuals concerned as well as their character. It’s an approach we’d to well to follow in contemporary public life: what kind of people do we trust to lead us?

Sun, Jul 09, 2017
The church today engages on two fronts: bringing Good News to where we are as well as secondly, building a body that, characterised with connected variety and personal grace will be the foundation for taking the church beyond its walls and structures. When we’re put under intense pressure to toe a party line even the most single minded of us find it hard to resist. Peter was no exception to this but perhaps like many of us, he hadn’t stopped to consider the wider impact of his change of mind. It wasn’t as if it was a minor matter …. the issue the Galatian believers faced was a crisis of identity and understanding. For a leader of Peter’s pedigree to come down on one side or another, was a significant step indeed. How do we make sure that we come down on the “right” side?
Sun, Jul 09, 2017
The only thing that matters: …. I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:24) Paul is nearing the end of his final missionary journey. Only one destination remains - Rome - where he will face the executioner’s axe. His last words to the church leaders in Ephesians (some of which are recorded above), emphasise the importance of wise government and gentle care as well as warning them that they will soon go through the same kind of persecution that will claim His life. Above all, the church is to continue in its God given task of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t stop when we’re tired or under pressure but when we’re done.
Sun, Jul 02, 2017
We hear a lot about it but what does “missional engagement“ really look like? Throughout this letter, written to a church struggling with identity, Paul sets out the credentials of his calling. This calling is set within the parameters of “grace” - that is, it does not happen and it is not shaped by who Paul is – it is set by who God is and what He has done and will do There’s clearly a battle going on. It’s not simply over the control of the fellowship, it also affects the unity of the believers because it affects the future of the church’s mission. Getting it wrong now – focusing on law not grace - will have significant consequences as it influences the way the church sees itself and the world around it
Sun, Jul 02, 2017
Conflict is never far away, especially when the church is growing and/or is making a difference in the life of the community. We may be doing all that’s necessary to ensure that we are on the right track with God but our faithfulness will inevitably confront the beliefs, practices and lifestyles of those who do not share our commitment to Christ. The result – as in Philippi - is often extreme and invariably personal. Paul and Silas are keen to join the small but growing group of people who are meeting at the place of prayer by the river. They are confronted by a spirit possessed slave girl who is being abused at every turn: the deliverance they bring to her results in them being chained up. The Christian life is not all plain sailing. We will have to chart our way through choppy waters from time to time particularly when we challenge those with something to lose. Even then, we are assured of God’s presence – and it’s amazing to see how He works even in the direst of circumstances.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017

Churches are places of harmony, acceptance and unity.

That may be God’s intention but it isn’t always what we find in real life. The smallest of issues can generate the widest of divisions , where “discussion” brings more heat than light to the table. It’s very easy to draw lines and erect barricades when that happens, rather than finding common ground on the things that really matter (there’s a big clue there).

The early church was far from immune to such problems. Human nature being what it is, some people found it hard to accept that they had to change (Acts 14); others thought that any practical changes to expected behaviour would be watering down the faith (Galatians 1).

It was serious stuff – did God want the gospel to go to all nations and was circumcision so important? Tune in today to two messages which develop the theme of freedom in Christ bringing harmony to the church.