As we kick off a new series looking at the books of Colossians and Ephesians, Stephen takes time to read through the 4 chapters of Colossians. We look at the major themes that we find in the book and discover some of the things that will help shape our lives as we dive deeper into the series!
In Acts 2:42 we read about “The Fellowship of the Believers”, and whilst this teaches us valuable lessons concerning how the community of believers should operate it is important to remember that a doctrine cannot be taken from one passage of scripture, and that the bible interprets itself and has numerous themes running through it
This morning we are going to discover how community, being together and fellowship are vital to the life of the chirch and that this theme and purpose runs through scripture starting at Genesis
Hope, often gets side-lined, it’s a little ambiguous to some it is often misinterpreted as the opposite to faith, “I wasn’t in faith, or I don’t have faith for that, but I can just hope?”. Just to be clear the opposite of faith is fear. The opposite of hope is doubt and confusion – a lack of direction or focus. Hope is important! Hope is not wishing for something to happen. The Bible describes hope much differently. The world is full of people hoping:
Their children’s future
Their own futures
Will their money last?
Will they stay in health?
Will they win the lottery?
So, this morning I want to get straight into the definition and unpack hope, to see how it strengthen our lives.
As we come around the table this morning – it is important to remember that Jesus said this “Anyone who feeds on me will live because of me.” There is something in “taking in Christ” in “feeding on Him” Normal bread doesn’t fill us in the same way. The children of Israel eat the bread in the wilderness – but eventually they all died! But this bread – the body of Jesus – brings eternal life!
It is a strange expression – “feed on me!” But we have all heard the expressions “He was feeding him the lines”, “He feed him a load of lies”, “People just seem to feed on this situation or rubbish”. But God doesn’t want us to feed on rubbish, lies, bad situations or be drawn along by the political or devious will of others. He wants us to follow Christ – to believe in Him. He wants the things “we feed” on to be of Him.
If I asked you what you think “strength” is – what would your answer be? What do you think it means to be “strong in the Lord?”Your strength is the energy that you have, which gives you more than the ability to just perform various actions, such as lifting or moving things. But is it easy to say my strength is in God, when we are feeling weak in the mist of problems and issues?! Real strength comes from the Lord and is in the Lord. In life we don’t rely on our own strength and ability – we look to the Lord to supply His strength and attributes in our lives.
We may be in a place of fear or feel weak, but today God wants to teach us something – God wants our faith to be strong all the time! What is this secret? We all need to get into training! He wants us to be strong, full of life, living victoriously despite the challenges that we may face, that we will indeed rule and reign in life!
If desire is to seek first God’s presence and his Kingdom then Moses has some great attitudes to take on board!
As we come towards the end of our series on Numbers, Stephen shares from Numbers 33 about how we are on a journey, and God is with us! Even during difficult stages of the journey there is a provision and refreshing for us. God wants to fill every aspect of our lives whilst we are on this journey, and despite set backs and, sometimes, failures, we are called to press on and finish the race.
During times of questions, debates, conflicting opinions and uncertainties, it is vital that we remember ‘what we have, and what we know’ about Christ Jesus. We can be calm, confident and caring in every situation, sensitive to others and able to offer support, because we know who it is that lives in us. In this message Stephen shares about what we have, and what we know about Jesus.
In this next message from our Gospel Encounters series, Stephen Russell takes us through the story of when the Roman Centurion encountered Jesus in the gospels. He shares with us his 4 key points: ‘Be known’, ‘See the need’, ‘Know the power of your words’, and ‘God is all powerful in our lives’.
It can be easy to let the busyness of life (and our long todo lists!) distract us from the most important thing – spending time with Jesus and listening to his word. Luke 10:38-42 describes the encounter Jesus had with Mary and Martha. Mary spent time with Jesus whilst Martha busied herself… do we identify with either of these women? God wants us to start ‘in rest’; to be in a place of peace, stillness and quiet. We don’t confuse rest with inactivity, but we know that The Lord ‘leads us beside peaceful streams’ and renews our strength as we rest in Him.
When we lay our hands on others, in faith, God releases His power and His blessing into their lives. In this message Stephen shows us examples of the laying on of hands in the Bible and encourages us that if we are followers of Jesus, saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, we have the right, ability and obligation to lay hands on others. It’s good to lay hands on one another!
For many of us, fear can be one of the most controlling influences in our lives. However 1 John 4:18 tells us that “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” In this message Stephen shares what this ‘perfect love’ is that dispels all fears. We look at how to foster, experience and develop this love in our lives and how it can move us towards a fearless life, full of joy and triumph.
As we start a new series – “Why do we do that?” – Stephen shares with us about why we fast. Fasting is something practical that we do but with enormous spiritual benefits. As we fast (and accompany it with prayer) we seek God for more of His power in our lives, to see miracles, salvation, a change in attitude and to grow closer to Him. Fasting allows us to rely less on ourselves and what our natural bodies want, and more on the Holy Spirit and what our new spiritual nature needs.
After spending 40 years wandering in the desert of Sinai, the people of Israel were now on the eastern banks of the Jordan. Their challenge: take the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. In this message Stephen shows us how the description of the complete obliteration of Jericho was recorded in Scripture in order to teach us several lessons, most importantly that obedience, even if God’s commands seem foolish, brings victory. When we are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, we must learn that our Jericho victories are won only when our faithful obedience to God is complete. Jericho situations require Jericho victories, which requires Jericho obedience.
In Joshua 4:1-8 we read about memorials that were built by the people of God to remember and commemorate the goodness, blessing, salvation and protection of the Lord. In this message, Stephen shares with us how we can all build memorials in our lives, but often they are not positive and can actually restrict our walk with God. However there is one memorial that we can all look to with great hope and thankfulness – the cross; a memorial that not only reminds us of our sinful condition but also the incredible love and grace of God, turning tragedy into triumph, failure into success and death into life!
Success and prosperity are often misquoted and misunderstood, but the word of God clearly states that by following God’s word we will be successful and prosperous. Joshua 1:8 encourages us to “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful”. As believers it’s important that we know how to define success and prosperity, especially when it can seem like the world is obsessed with greed, status and position. In this message we discover what the word says and how it applies to us as followers of Jesus.
We read in Ephesians 4:16 about how God is building His church: “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”. As we look at this further we discover that the Church that is being built is not made of bricks and mortar, but of people! It can be easy to become focussed on physical buildings, but as we develop our understanding of the Church, we see how each person fits in to the whole ‘building’ and how we can make room for each of us to be shaped and cut to size, in order that God’s Church is built according to His plan and purpose.
Romans 13:8 tells is about one ‘debt’ that you will always owe and can never pay off – the debt of love to others. As we explore what this means together, we see how we will never be able to reach the point where we can say “now I love others as much as I should”! No matter how much we have grown as a Christian, we still have room to grow in love.
As we read through Romans 12, we see what our ’new life’ should look like. Paul encourages us in this chapter that we are no longer bound by sin and death because Christ has been raised up and we sit alongside him in heavenly places. In this message, Stephen unpacks what this means for us and gives us some practical ways that we can enjoy our new life in Christ.
We learn in Romans that we have the freedom to become like Christ, and discover God’s limitlessness love and power in our lives. We can be identified or defined by many things, but in this message we discover how we can find out identity in Jesus Christ. Romans 8:5-17 says that Christ lives in you; the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells within us! We are adopted as His own children and we are heirs of Gods glory. Once you become a new creation in Him, everything changes for the better. You’re given a new name. Your whole identity changes because you’ve been rescued and redeemed from sin and darkness and welcomed into God’s Kingdom family.
Jesus said “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. Jesus has given a great commission to carry on His work in the world today, equipped by the “same” spirit. The fields are white for harvest, and we are the labours – therefore go, and bring in the harvest!
We can be passionate about lots of different things in our lives, but are we passionate about Jesus and His Kingdom? In this message, Stephen encourages us to be those who are consumed by Jesus and know what it means to have a passion for the things of God. Will we be known as those whose passions for God define our lives?