Making Church a Home and not just a House. Is the Home ready for the Prodigals to come back and what do we need to do to ensure it is?
David’s realisation that we must all walk in obedience to God’s ‘prescribed ways’ (1 Chr.15:13)
What could this mean for us as individuals and at a corporate level?
The Ark as a symbol of God’s presence and favour among his people.
Why knowing these is vital to our existence as individual disciples and
communities of faith.
❖ Why operating in our own strength and presumption is not how we
facilitate the favour of God (CF the unsettling example of Uzzah)
From the series "A Word to the Wise" from Ecclesiastes.
Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:1-11; 2:24-25; 3:9-13; 5:18-20; 6:9; 8:15
Vapour/smoke has a temporary and fleeting nature which could encourage contrasting postures towards play and pleasure. 1. What’s the point in enjoying anything because it will eventually disappear? 2. I’m going to pursue as much pleasure as possible, while I have the opportunity. Is there a healthy balance to be found of not clinging on too tightly to things that bring us pleasure and making them idols (ref. Isaiah 44) but coupling this with a genuine enjoyment of the simple things in life and acknowledging them as gifts from God? If we give ourselves completely over to pleasure, satisfaction will be temporary and Monday morning always comes around. The teacher tried to find pleasure in lots of different areas, some of them not bad in and of themselves, but this only filled his life and didn’t bring fulfilment to it. This said, life is hard work, throws up all kinds of challenges and the teacher acknowledges that God has placed this burden on us so it’s important we enjoy ourselves in amongst our toil and hardships. A posture of total trust in God helps us to enjoy life as we actually experience it as opposed to pursuing how we think it ought to be.
Ryan Baxter 27/8/2023
From the series "A word to the Wise" from Ecclesiastes.
Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 1:12-18; 2:12-16; 7:1-25; 8:1; 8:16-17; 9:13-10:4; 12:9-14
'Hebel' is an enigma/paradox and in life, particular actions don't always lead to the outcomes we expect. This brings into question what the point of wisdom and knowledge is when it can often be the case that there is little or no reward to demonstrating these qualities. This is a direct contrast to the Book of Proverbs where the general rule of thumb is that certain wise actions should result in positive and logical outcomes. However, even amongst the teacher’s scepticism, there is an underlying acceptance that cultivating and protecting wisdom in our lives is good for us but that ultimately, human wisdom has its limitations. The author in the closing poem fully endorses the teacher’s wisdom but concludes that we shouldn’t spend all our time trying to solve life’s existential puzzles and instead, fear the Lord and keep his commandments.
Paul Rogers 20/8/2023
From the series "A word to the Wise" from Ecclesiastes.
Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 3:15-17; 4:1-3; 5:8-9; 8:9-14; 12:14
There’s so much beauty and goodness in the world but just when we’re enjoying it, hardship and tragedy has a habit of striking. Just like smoke which appears solid but quickly disperses when we try and grab hold of it. A lot of people carry a strong sense of justice but ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people all the time which can cause disillusionment or at the very least, confusion. Oppression makes life bitter, sorrowful and destroys people and it’s often people or groups in positions of power who are culpable. A significant part of the closing poem highlights that it is God’s intention to bring every deed into judgment, whether good or bad. This should hopefully inspire us to cultivate lives of honesty and integrity, with the confidence that the injustices we and others experience in this life will be brought under God’s judgement.
Erica Richmond 13/8/2023
From the series "A word to the Wise" from Ecclesiastes.
Key Verses: Ecclesiastes 1:3-11; 3:14; 3:18-21; 9:1-10
We spend a lot of energy and emotion on things that ultimately have no lasting meaning or significance. Eg. Wealth, work, pleasure, status. Time will eventually erase us and everything we care about, with death being the great equaliser. The death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus is the only thing that can combat the inevitability of time and death and in the meantime, He shows us why and how we should live, that true life is to know him and that it is He who ultimately ensures our lives have meaning and significance.
Paul Rogers 6/8/2023
What, on Earth, is God up to? (Daniel 3 & Revelation 21)
In a world of uncertainty, what, on Earth, is God up to?
Paul Rogers 30.07.23
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus" Acts 4:13
A look at some of the things which stop us from stepping out in seeking the Lord's will for our lives.
Simon Lau 23/07/23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - Be Fruitful & Multiply
Perhaps the key quality of fruitfulness is multiplication. It is the nature of fruit to carry within it the seeds of reproduction, and Jesus expected that his followers would carry the message to others to believe in him, and prayed for their protection, joy, love, glory and unity as he sent them out to do so. Wherever it goes, the gospel bears the fruit of hope, faith and love, do we have this confidence in the Gospel?
Paul Rogers 16.07.23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - Growing Pains & Gains.
In John 15:1-17, Jesus uses an extended metaphor to give profound teaching about discipleship. The only way to bear fruit is to remain in him and in his love, to let his words remain in us and obey his commands, and to allow the Father to prune anything out which would weaken our ability to be abundantly fruitful- not necessarily bad things. These things (loving connection, obedience and pruning) are easy to say and know intellectually, but some of the hardest to put into practice.
Erica Richmond 09.07.23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - The Fruitfulness of Christ
We are the fruit of Jesus’ life and sacrifice, and just as a seed reproduces the same kind of plant, so it is now Christ who lives in us. Our lifelong task is to live by the Spirit, not the flesh, so that we become increasingly like him, bearing fruit for God. This kind of fruitfulness is about the life of Christ flourishing in us.
Karen Swaffield 02/07/23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - Good Soil
In the Parable of the Soils (Mark 4:1-20), Jesus says it is the quality of the soil which determines the fruitfulness of the crop. How did Jesus ensure that his own life was good soil for a fruitful ministry? The key is in his baptism and temptation (Matthew 3:13-4:11): before he uttered a word of public preaching, Jesus was secure in his identity as God’s beloved Son, received the Spirit, and dealt with potential temptation and bad motivations before they could trip him up. He then continued to protect these things in his life. When we pay attention to these foundational things, we will be well-prepared, rich soil, not rocky, stony or thorny.
Paul Rogers 25.06.23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - Are we Willing? (Matthew 14:22-33)
To be fruitful disciples, first we need to ask ourselves we willing to pursue Jesus in our own discipleship? Using the story of Peter walking on water, are we willing to get out of the boat!?
Chris Burgess 18.06.23
From the series 'Fruitful Disciples' - Designed for Fruitfulness
From Genesis 1 onwards, we see God’s intentions to bless the earth with fruitfulness, flourishing and abundance. Land that is fruitful nourishes life and enables it to multiply. Israel failed at various times to be fruitful, because of their idolatry (Hosea 14:4-8) and, later, their rejection of Jesus (Matt 3:7-11).
Jesus taught that the fruit we bear reveals what is within (Luke 6:43-45), and that God has given his people the job of producing and gathering fruit (Matt 21:33-44) for Him. If bearing fruit shows that we are his disciples, what does it mean to produce and gather fruit? It is a life that matches the reality of being a new creation and pleases God, and which reproduces itself
Erica Richmond 11.06.23
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - Becoming an Outsider (Hebrews 13:1-14)
As we conclude this series, we spend time on the author's last remarks in this letter with some practical instructions to give faith a tangible outworking. As disciples of Jesus, there is a challenge for us to step out of our comfort zone as we do this.
Paul Rogers 04.06.23
Pentecost International Sunday - Acts 2
Today we celebrate being part of an international church! As we remember the day of Pentecost and the significance for the early church, what does it mean for us today as the church? Are we open to receive the Spirit? Do we continue to seek & be transformed?
Paul Rogers 28.05.23
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - The Pursuit of Godliness (Hebrews 12:12-29)
As followers of Jesus we are called to walk by faith and walk in holiness, and this can only take place once we recapture the salience, the grandeur, the utter awesomeness of God. These verses are designed to do just that, to re-introduce the Christian to a God who is utterly other. Too often we like to think of the Lord, not as God all mighty, but God all matey and we start ascribing awesomeness to all and everyone and anything that we choose. What does this mean for us in our discipleship?
Chris Burgess 21.05.23
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - Growing Through the Trial (Hebrews 12:4-13)
The question of suffering and making attempts to make sense of some of these issues is one of the great challenges to the Christian faith. However, scripture may not give us a neatly packaged answer, but instead offers us glimpses from time to time as to the Lord’s purposes in times of trial.
In these verse the writer to these Christians pulls back the curtain on suffering, just a little, and offers a glimpse as how the Lord take what is painful and brings something beautiful from it. It is not the whole picture, because much remains a mystery, but still offers purpose and meaning into what could otherwise be just a dark void.
Mark Gibson 14/05/23
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - How to Please God (Hebrews 11:32-12:3)
Faith under pressure often produces diamonds and Hebrews 11 offers a glimpse into lives who, by faith, offer their whole lives up to the Lord of all the earth as what Paul says in Romans 12: 1 but what do we do though when things get difficult? How do we keep going and 'run the race with perseverance'?
Paul Rogers (07/05/23)
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - How to Please God (Hebrews 11:1-40)
Here we are at the Hebrews ‘hall of fame’ with this Great Cloud of Witnesses (Heb. 12:1) and faced with a question 'What does biblical faith look like?' Often when we talk about faith in our pluralistic society, we are often are left with a rather fuzzy definition of what faith actually looks like, and many think that faith is just a blind leap, which it is most certainly not.
Erica Richmond (30/04/23)
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - In the Eye of the Storm (Hebrews 10:19-39)
As Christians, we may not (yet) face the outward persecution in the same way others do around the world, but the battle for the mind can be just as vicious and often harder to resist, but resist we must. These verses call the Christian to persevere (10:36) in all areas of life. How do we live in the eye of the storm?
Paul Rogers (23/04/23)
From the series 'The Real Deal - Part 2' - New Life, Not More Effort (Hebrews 10:1-18)
We are starting a new series by finishing an old one! We are finishing the book of Hebrews and we are starting by digging into what Jesus' sacrifice means for us as believers. Do we struggle with the temptation for ongoing religious activity as a means to earn God’s approval? Our thinking may drift towards other churches, but even as evangelicals we have a propensity to do this, even in ways we may not have even considered.
Mark Gibson (16.04.23)
From the series 'Cruciformed - Discipleship shaped by the Cross' - The Resurrection (Mark 15:40-16:1-8)
From this passage we will be unpacking the significance of the resurrection. It is also important for us because if we are convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and long-awaited Saviour, then our lives should reflect our faith in daily obedience and faithfulness to him.
From the series 'Cruciformed - Discipleship shaped by the Cross' - The Cross (Mark 15:15-39)
At the very beginning of Mark 1 it says…’The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the Son of God…’ Mark 1:1a. Why is the cross of Jesus good news for us? This whole book has been leading to this point and we are about to read it’s conclusion. Mark’s description in this passage was without comment or interpretation but just as it happened. This final period of Jesus’ ministry…in his suffering, his death and resurrection.
Chris Burgess (02.04.23)