As we read Paul’s practical instructions about walking in our new life in Christ (Eph 4:17 to 5:21), we consider in this first part of a two part message, what it means to ‘put off’ our ‘former way of life’ (v.22). To do so, we’ll look at the difference between salvation and sanctification, and how as new creations (2 Co 5:17) the power balance has changed within us, enabling us to live as God created us to. No longer ruled by body and soul, our newly empowered spirit is able to take control of our thoughts and impulses, in order that we may be transformed through renewal (Ro 12:2), from the inside out.
In preparation for our new series, ‘Love Builds Up’, during which we’ll be exploring Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians together, we consider in this message the City of Corinth, the Church in Corinth, and (Paul’s) Correspondence with Corinth. Strategically located as a trading gateway between east and west, this city was a bustling metropolis, full of people from many different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. Into this melting pot the church was established by Paul (Acts 18) and quickly grew in number and gift (1:7). But with growth came some significant challenges. As we look at the different sections in this letter, Paul deals with each issue in turn, identifying the underlying issue at work. He encourages them to embrace the ‘folly’ of the Cross instead of revering the ‘wisdom’ of this world (1:18), to see the church is a beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit and not a marketplace (3:16, 6:19), to embrace service instead self-interest (10:23-24), and to learn each time they gathered how to flow together as a body of many parts, not parties (11:18, 12:7). Paul was strengthening the Apostolic foundation which he had laid, encouraging the church to hold fast to the gospel they had received (15:1-2)!
In Part 1 we looked at the Holy’s Spirit’s work of Sanctification in our lives. In Part 2, we consider how the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to show us who God has made us to be, and what aspects of our personalities are influenced by sin. We also look at what it means for us to be transformed from one degree of glory to another through a growing REVELATION of Jesus (2 Co 3:18), by REFLECTING His image, and REFRACTING His glory through our lives. The key to surrendering to the sanctifying work of the Spirit is VALIDATION and VULNERABILITY – drawing our value and worth from Him, and being willing to let the Holy Spirit strip away sin’s influence on our personalities. What remains is the true person, created and designed by God to individually refract His glorious light – a unique and precious Living Stone!
God’s House is built with Living Stones (1 Pe 2:5), each carefully selected and put in place by the Holy Spirit. In Part 1 we consider how the Holy Spirit shapes each stone – that great work of the Spirit in the Sanctification of believers, shaping us into the likeness of Christ (Ro 8:29). We’ll also discuss how our new birth into God’s kingdom, restores God’s original design for His tripartite humanity, by which our spirits are promoted to the driving seat of our lives (the proper seat for righteous decision making!). Through His work of Sanctification, the Spirit helps us to bring our souls and bodies into line with God’s restored special arrangement within us (Ro 12:1-2). In Part 2 we’ll consider what unique aspects of ourselves are preserved, in the process of the Spirit making us more like Jesus, and how they might diversely and richly display God’s glory.
Being Spirit-filled is fundamental (who we are) and foundational (how we build and grow together) for us as God’s people. The House of the Spirit is being built by the Holy Spirit, using living stones, each of whom He wants to fill with the fulness of Christ. In this message we look at the practical implications of this for us all, and each of us personally, by considering the three main aspects of the ‘fellowship of the Holy Spirit’ (2 Co 13:14) – communion, community, and contribution.
As part of our series ‘For Such a Time as This’, we consider the first generation of Christians. In Acts 1, Luke tells us that as the risen Jesus prepares to return to His Father, He shows them what the Kingdom of God means, He tells them to do nothing without the Holy Spirit, and it quickly becomes apparent that every single one of their small number was necessary for the Mission which lay ahead. As our world today finds itself in a state of ‘permacrisis’, God’s unshakeable Kingdom arises, and He is calling us to embrace the moment for which He has shaped us!
‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Pr 13:12). In this message we consider those things which we had hoped would come to pass, or which we’re sure we’ve been promised, but seem to remain out of our reach, or delayed in their coming. It can have a huge impact on our lives. And in this message, we consider why we experience deferred hope, how it happens, and what God can achieve in our lives through these times. King David knew all about this process, and his confession can also be ours – ‘I would have despaired, had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ (Ps 27:13, Amplified)
The apostle Paul commended the Thessalonians for their work of Faith, labour of Love and steadfastness of Hope (1 Thess 1.3). In this message we’ll start to build on our existing definitions for these three great aspects of our life in God’s Kingdom. And we’ll also consider how together, working in unison, they can prove to be a cord of three strands for us all (Eccl 4.12).
If someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. (1 Peter 3:15, NLT)
We’re living in days where hope is in short supply, or just in the wrong things. In such days, God’s people are called to hold out rock solid hope, which is based on the person and work of Christ, rooted in eternity, guaranteed with the seal of the Holy Spirit, evidenced by lives full of Jesus’ resurrection power; and from which none are excluded. In this message, we consider why these five essential reasons explain the glorious hope we have.
In this third instalment of our ‘His House, Our Home’ series, we look at the foundational matter of STEWARDSHIP – why and how we invest our lives, and all that God has placed in our hands. We consider Kingdom Principles, which are inherent in our nature as new creations; and how God uses stewardship to show us what’s in our hearts, grow our faith in Him, and ultimately, to prepare us to be entrusted with the true riches of heaven (Lk 16:11). We also discuss Kingdom Practices, considering the purpose of tithes and offerings in the outworking of these Kingdom Principles in our lives. And to finish … 10 Myth-busters!
The continual refrain of Christ in His letters to the churches, is “I know”. He knew each church and its members intimately. Not as one who had simply left them behind as He returned to the Father. The letters of Revelation are personal and passionate correspondence from Jesus to those whom He loved dearly. As we consider what He knows of each church, much of what Jesus says will resonate with each of us in different ways. This is because He knows us intimately as well – our passions, desires, plans, struggles and weaknesses. He came not only to understand us, but to fill us with His very own fulness and empower us. He knows the beautiful design God has for each of us, and has sent His Spirit to repair and restore, shape and to set us back on track.
As we start a new teaching series called Red Letter Days, from Jesus’ letters to the churches in the book of Revelation, we begin with a whistle-stop tour of each church to see the defining characteristic Jesus requires of them and how this matches an aspect of His own nature.
In Numbers 20 and Exodus 17 we find two similar, yet distinct incidents, at the beginning and toward the end of Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Both mark periods of testing, for God and for Israel, and become future reference points in the Scriptures, which demonstrate the dangers of testing God to prove Himself to us, and the reason why God allows us to go through periods of testing. As His workmanship, God is not shaping our circumstances to suit us, but shaping us to suit His purposes. He will sometimes allow us to be tested beyond our limits, so that we rely solely upon the fresh living water, from Jesus, our Spiritual Rock. Water that tastes as sweet at honey! (Ps 81.16)
The book of Numbers is a story of wanderings. A people on a pilgrimage through the wilderness, called to a promised land flowing with milk and honey. However, not yet ready to take hold of it, they became nomads instead of pilgrims. God has a plan and purpose for each of us as well. A journey which should have taken weeks for the Israelites, instead took them years, with a whole generation dying out. Numbers provides us with a helpful picture about making progress in own journey, to avoid wandering and being taken off course. Like the Israelites, most of the time the biggest obstacle to our progress is US; sometimes it’s our CIRCUMSTANCES, and occasionally GOD Himself steps in, to protect us from our mistakes! Numbers has been given as an instruction to us (1 Co 10:11), so let’s embrace it so we can be pilgrims rather than nomads!
Luke 23:32-43 – As we close our ‘Gospel Encounters’ series, we consider the last encounter, thankfully recorded for us by Luke. This one takes place between the innocent Son of God and the convicted criminal, during the final moments of both their lives. The intensity of this last encounter is obvious, and shows us that at its heart, the gospel message is about injustice, brutality, divisiveness, and is intensely personal!
Toward the end of Matthew’s gospel, hours are unfolding before us. Jesus, the great Shepherd was to be struck and the sheep scattered, as Zechariah had foretold (Zc 13:7). Even though Jesus had promised never to leave nor forsake His disciples, they were separated. It was during this traumatic time that Peter and the others had to face their FEARS, FLAWS, and FRUSTRATIONS. All of this was necessary – for Jesus had promised to go on ahead of them to Galilee (Mt 26:32), where they would be reunited and restored (Mt 28:16), so they were ready to receive His great commission (Mt 28:18-20). During times when the Shepherd seems far away from us, He has not abandoned us, but He has gone on ahead of us, whilst doing great things within us; beyond which is always reunion and restoration.
Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth, teaching us a new way to enter, live, and grow in it. Looking at three encounters with Jesus, we can see from the pictures He used, the path each child of God must take to fulfil their God-given destiny in the Kingdom of God. A new creation life starts with rebirth and reaches it fulfilment in complete trusting reliance upon God the Father, just like Jesus Himself. This is our God-designed path to maturity, which unlocks all the seed potential He has placed within each of us.
Jesus is the Great Shepherd. Matthew reveals what He was thinking one day when He looked across the crowds of people gathered around Him. He had come for them – those who found themselves feeling harassed and helpless – because He knew they lacked a shepherd to show them the true purpose of their lives and their true value to the Author of life.
Jesus ministered to multitudes but connected with people ONE AT A TIME. He followed the leading of the Holy Spirit to individual people and asked them a powerful question, which cut to the heart and opened up their lives, so that He could give them what they really needed.
In this first message from our Gospel Encounters series, we start by looking at three such encounters: a woman who felt tainted by her past (Lk 8:40-48), a man who was dissatisfied with the present (Mt 19:16-22), and a man who was despondent about his future (Jn 5:1-9). They’re like people we meet every day, to whom Jesus is now sending us. Are we willing to go into the ‘Mission Field’ to ask the questions He gives us, to meet needs and change lives?
In the second of two messages from John’s letters looking at ‘The World’ (how we relate to it and how we should live in it), we turn to John’s amazing statement that we are, AS HE IS, in this world (1 John 4:17). John instructs us not to love the world (1 John 2:15), but he also shows us that ‘AS HE IS’ means that by our very nature we are, SENT into it, and LOVED. Once again, starting in Genesis and exploring the meaning of the Tree of Life, we can see how this has always been God’s plan, to have a people who are maturing into the full stature of His beloved Son, Jesus.
In the first of two messages from John’s letters, looking at the world – how we relate to it and how we should live in it – we start with John’s instruction not to love the world. Firstly looking at what John and the other NT writers meant by ‘the world’, and then considering the 3 fundamental elements John describes as being ‘in the world’. We trace them back to their roots in Genesis, so that we can see how they came between God and humanity, and how as God’s children we can now live differently, showing others the way back to Him.
The Apostle John was the ultimate witness for Jesus. At the outset of a new teaching series, based in his affectionate and timely letters to the church, we start with the historical and cultural backdrop in which he wrote them. Writing toward the end of the first century AD, John was most likely the last of Jesus’ original Apostolic company. After a life witnessing events of eternal significance, Jesus’ closest friend opens his heart to us, with a simple and profound message about three fundamental aspects of who Jesus is … LIFE, LIGHT and LOVE!
Luke 10:38-42– In a few short verses, Luke has recorded an important encounter in the lives of two sister, Mary and Martha, friends of Jesus. At first glance Jesus seemed to be scolding Martha for her activity and praising Mary for her lack of it. But a closer look shows us that much more was taking place than at first glance. Mary had stopped to listen to Jesus and found that only one thing was necessary for her that day. Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”Are we prepared to sit at His feet each day, and wait on Him for the one thing that is necessary for us?