Paul the apostle was held in prison many times, he was possibly chained to a Roman soldier and his mind may have turned his thoughts to the fact that he also was a soldier, a soldier of Christ. The armour of God is an illustration in the word that reminds us about the reality of spiritual battle and describes the protection available to us. It is not a convenient scripture that lends itself to Sunday school classes! Each piece of armour has a distinct purpose and means of defence against temptation and evil. Daily “suiting up” in the armour of God can feel abstract but with prayer and practice, believers can better understand and implement the habit of putting on the full armour of God everyday.
In Ephesians 4:2-6 Paul encourages the church in Ephesus to ‘make every effort’ to be united with one another. In this message we look at what unity is, and how the covenant meal (comm-union) is an opportunity for Jesus’ body (the church) to demonstrate the powerful joining and unity that was made possible when He died on the cross.
As we continue to consider Paul’s practical instructions to us (Eph 4:17 to 5:21), we take a look at what it means to ‘put on’ our new life in Christ (4:24), in this second part of a two part message. The apostle shows us how ‘all of God does all that God does’ in our salvation and sanctification. He points us to the PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit (4:30) empowering us to change, the GRACE of the Father (4:32-5:1) enabling us to let go of self-orientated thoughts and feelings, and the LOVE of the Son (5:2) endowing us with the capacity to love God and His people, as we look outward instead of inward.
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.
God is interested in our work lives, and he wants to be involved in it. Your work can make an eternal difference in the lives of those you work with, those you work for, those you manage, and those you serve through your work. Change the way you look at and do your work, in the light of His gospel and grace. We are redeemed by grace, let’s live out that grace in the context of your work. You may never look at work the same way again.
In Ephesians 5:18-20 Paul gives an instruction to the Christians in the church in Ephesus – to be filled with the holy spirit, to sing praise and give thanks. In this interactive message we look at what these phrases mean, the difference between a psalm, hymn and spiritual song, and we look at why it’s so important that we sing praise together.
God wants us to receive revelation! In fact the word says that He wants us to be continually receiving revelation. To understand the great mysteries of the word, to be empowered and to ultimately become more and more like Him. This morning we look at 5 keys and challenges to attain this goal here are the Five Challenges – that will develop revelation! People, books, experience, observation & thinking and pondering.
Towards the end of Ephesians 2 we read some familiar verses that describe Jesus as the cornerstone. In this message we unpack what this means and go through verses 19-22 phrase-by-phrase. We see how Jesus the Cornerstone is placed at the very centre of both the church and our lives individually, providing a strong and stable foundation that everything else can line up to.
Jumping out of Ephesians chapters 2 & 4, in this episode, we think again about the contrast in the life of the believer before and after encountering Jesus. We explore how that change happened and then how in the church we work hard together to preserve the unity that Christ has won.
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!
In part 2 of this message we are introduced to God as the master architect, who has a master plan – for his Kingdom be be extended and established on earth. How does he choose to do this? Through his people, the Church. We therefore learn that God’s plan for our lives is never independent of the Church. Actually we can only fully outwork his plan for our life in the context of church, because it’s the church that is his master plan. When we realise what the church is (which we find in the book of Ephesians), and who fills it, it stops being something that we attend. It starts to become part of our everyday lives, as we see His Kingdom established.
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.
God makes it clear in His word how important it is for us to walk humbly with Him. Humility is a virtue that Jesus exemplified. He showed us how to live with a humble mindset and so we explore in this message how to “walk humbly with our God” and how this humility facilitates living full of the Spirit.
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 we continue to discover more about our identity as followers of Christ, now that we are new creations, we see that thankfulness is something that we can now have, and can see more of, in our lives. Colossians 2:6-7 tells us that thankfulness is actively grateful language, an act of worship, and something that can overflow in our lives, in order that we come into the fulness of Jesus! In this message Benj unpacks this and highlights 7 things that thankfulness does in our lives.
God doesn’t want us to be barely alive – He wants us to be “fully” alive. We read in Colossians 2:13, you were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. We can achieve this by Let (ting) your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:7)
Are you alive this morning? We don’t need to, and must not keep having “an event” to be barely alive – an occasional shot in the arm, the occasional defib! God doesn’t want us to be “roller Coaster Christians. But instead to put on your new nature, and be renewed “as you learn” to know your Creator and become like him. (Colossians 3:10) “As we learn – it is a process and a journey, to become better, stronger, faster
Together around tables we take a further look at the ‘envelope’ and start of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, uncovering some of the heart of the author and the nature of this young church; seeing that we too are a holy family, in Market Harborough, in Christ, set apart for God and specially useful to Him for such a time as this. We are qualified by the Father, secured in the Son and equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit!
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!