Another Clewer

19 05 2014

Yesterday I went to church in a little village near Salisbury where my Dad’s cousin was speaking. I’ve not heard him speak before, but just knew he’s very clever with an excellent sense of humour. Well – cheesy, but to me that’s excellent!

I know I haven’t done a sermon notes blog in a while, but I think for our current sermon series at Heathervale I want to just do one overall one, but this of course was a complete one off yesterday, so here goes – the subject was prayer.

  • If we spent as much time praying as we did watching Emmerdale [insert other soap/tv show/hobby here] then we’d be a powerful church. We’d easily spend 30 minutes on the phone to a friend.
  • Our prayer time often consists of us talking to God but we don’t wait for a reply or for the Holy Spirit to guide us. Imagine ringing a friend, talking, and hanging up without giving them a chance to reply!
  • The Holy Spirit gives us three things to help us in prayer.
    • Boldness
      “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” – Hebrews 10 vv 19-23

      The most wonderful prayers we hear other people pray are the bold and honest ones

      “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” – James 1 vv 6-8

    • Ability…
      • …to pray for those who persecute us.
        It allows us to love them.

        “You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” – Matthew 5 vv 43-44

      • …not to lose heart.
        We often do

        “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” – Luke 18 v 1

      • …to pray without ceasing.

        “pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5 vv 17-18
        Notice that that says in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.
        God had to put the prophets into the right place before He moved, and so things were tough for a while.

    • A sure reward
      “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11 v 6

      “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6 v 33

      Putting Him first means listening to what He has to say. Not necessarily actively doing lots of things, but stopping and listening.

      “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4 vv 4-7

      To get the peace in verse seven, you have to do the things before it!

Gospel Perseverance – Philippians 4 vv 1-9

24 03 2014

We had a great sermon this weekend – here’s the passage and my notes 🙂

“Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends!

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

This passage gives us things to watch out for so we can stand firm in the Lord and persevere in our faith (v1)

  • Unity with other Christians – vv2-3
    Soldiers would stand shoulder to shoulder, and if they didn’t break rank they were virtually invincible.
    The enemy is looking for cracks and divisions in the church to exploit.
    One of the most common causes of church splits is personality clashes.
    In this example Paul doesn’t take sides.

    Disagreements, disunity and unforgiveness can weaken the church and destroy our faith.
    Warmth of close Christian friendship strengthens the church and builds our faith.

  • Relationship with the Lord
    Paul gives three ways to do this

    • Enjoy the Lord – v4
      Paul mentions rejoicing 16 times in Philippians, but not a certain style of joy.
      Joy may be expressed in silence, tears, delight or peace.

      The ground of our joy can never be in our circumstances.
      If our joy is based on our circumstances, then when they change we’ll be miserable.
      Our joy and delight must be in the Lord.

      When you get down in the dumps, read the promises of Christ.
      Try reading Ephesians 1 vv 3-14 and dare to still be miserable at the end!

    • Expect the Lord – v5
      Gentleness means moderation or graciousness. Being willing to forego retaliation.
      We should expect His return at any time.

      Crowds gather with excitement for royalty or celebrity.
      We should have expectancy and excitement for the arrival of the King of kings!

      The Lord is also near through the Holy Spirit in us.

    • Petition the Lord in prayer, with thanksgiving – v6
      “When I look back on all these worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his death bed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened.” – Winston Churchill
      Worry can wreck out lives.
      Paul says that we must never be anxious.
      Rather than indulging in anxiety we are to pray about everything, no matter how small the issue.
      When we are anxious, it is because a situation seems out of control and we feel we can’t fix it. Either we continue like that, or we turn to prayer.
      God promises never to leave us of forsake us.

      It can be helpful to memorise verses that relate to personal issues for us, and then speak them to your spirit when you struggle.
      Some find it helpful to keep a prayer journal or prayer diary. It helps concentration, and helps look back and see how God has answered prayers. Then we can pray with thanksgiving and have greater confidence as we go on praying!

      As we bring worries and anxieties to God and leave them with Him, He gives us His peace in exchange.
      Peace means wholeness, soundness, well-being, oneness with God, every kind of blessing!

      Others can’t understand how we can be so peaceful amidst major worries.

  • Thoughts – vv8-9
    What we think about affects every area of our lives.
    If we want to become more like Jesus then we need to set our minds on the right things.

    The world we live in is quite different to this. We are bound to be tempted daily by wrong thoughts!
    “You can’t stop a bird flying overhead, but you can stop it nesting in your hair” – Martin Luther

    “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones; unoccupied they cannot be.” – Sir Thomas More
    The way to get wrong thoughts out is to get right thoughts in.
    Starting the day with this from the moment we wake up is a great way to start, to set the agenda for the day.

    Our unseen thought life is like the roots of a tree – our ability to withstand the storms of life depends on the strength of the unseen parts.

The hardest part of all of this is putting it into practice!
We must practice:

  • Avoiding quarrels and staying united with other Christians
  • Avoiding worry and anxiety by bringing it to the Lord in prayer
  • Thinking about good things

Gospel Confidence – Philippians 3 vv 1-9

2 03 2014

There seems to have been a bit of a gap lately, not sure what happened, life just got busy and I had a few weeks on rotas, but here are my notes from this morning’s sermon!

So many people constantly feel inadequate and insecure.

Is it legitimate or possible for Christians to have confidence, and if so in what?

The answer is “yes!” – we can sing “Bold I approach the eternal throne”

But it is possible to have a false confidence in religion. Paul had that as a Pharisee.

Colossians 2 says about needing our hearts circumcised, this means having the sinful part stripped away by the Spirit when we are born again, and given a new heart.

People can think that religion gives confidence before God. E.g. having Christian parents, having being Christened, Confirmed or even Baptised. But none of these in themselves make us right before God.

People can think that living by Christian morals, keeping the 10 Commandments, or even just not breaking the law is enough. But doing good works is not enough to give us confidence before God.

Saul looked like a good religious man on the outside, but on the inside he had a burning hate of Christians. When he became Paul he found his confidence in Jesus Christ.

Jesus took our filthy rags on the cross, and we were clothed in pure white robes of righteousness. Therefore God does not see our sin. He sees us as pure, all because of what Christ did for us. At the bar of justice, we have been declared Not Guilty. We now have confidence to approach God!

The secular world sees confidence in a career, money, popularity, fame. That is not the case!

There is no more than what was poured out that He could have poured out.
There is no more than He’s given us that He could have given us.

“Confidence is a path of slow growth” – William Pitt. It’s going to take lifetime!

We’ll become confident in perfection when we meet Him on that final day, but in the meantime:: “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1v6b.

Jesus has paid the price once and for all

Gospel Responsibilities – Philippians 2 vv 5-18

2 02 2014

Responsibility is not a popular concept these days, it’s more about “my rights”.
But as Christians, we have responsibilities:

  1. We have a responsibility to work out our salvation.
    “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.” – vv 12-13
  2. We don’t use the word “Salvation” much in everyday language.
    We were born into slavery, into sin. We’re not born with God at the centre of our lives, loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
    We can’t free ourselves, we need Jesus to do that, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    The concept can be thought of like marriage: on the wedding day you fully possess marriage, but it takes a life time to be worked out.

    We can’t do it on our own though, we need God to work in us. A gardener has to water and weed a garden, but only God brings the growth.

    “Fear and trembling” is a healthy honour and respect in the light of judgement day when we’ll have to stand in front of Jesus and give an account for our lives. Jesus is not just our Saviour, He’s also our judge.

    Salvation is past, present and future.
    We have been freed through the cross
    We are being freed daily
    We will be fully freed and made perfect on that final day.

  3. We have a responsibility to shine like stars in a dark world.
    “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” – v15b
  4. We live in a crooked and depraved generation. But this has also been true throughout the whole of history!
    Fundamentally we live in a world that does not put God in the centre.

    “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” – v14. We’ve got to get that right.
    As we gossip, slander and chatter, the stars go out and we’re left with a black sky.

    “hold firmly to the word of life” – v16a. We need to be audio and visual representations for God.

  5. We have a responsibility to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
    “But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith” – v17a
  6. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.

    The Philippian church, in sacrificing themselves are like the animal sacrifice, and Paul is like the drinks offering poured over it.

    We’re called to be a city on a hill, to live lives of sacrifice, with Kingdom values, committed to Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you”

6 01 2014

Before we start our next sermon series on church we had a look at this passage – what a good start to the new year! Here’s my notes from the service.

Jeremiah 29vv1-23

Picture a child learning the piano. They’re trying their best to play a tune but there’s a lot of duff notes. The teacher sits next to them and plays around their notes and it turns into a beautiful tune.
The child is us trying to follow God’s plan, the tune, but we muck up, so He works around us, fitting our attempts into His plan.

If we don’t listen to God, He may need to use a megaphone. This might sometimes seem like pain or suffering.

We shouldn’t boast in things we plan to do as though they are independent of God’s plans for us.

As we love one another and bear the fruit of the spirit, then others will see Jesus in us. This is how we can live for God’s glory.

We may not know God’s plan for us yet, but in the mean time we need to keep moving and seek Him. It’s much easier to turn the wheel of a moving car than a stationary one.

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans” – John Lennon

For some reason we think the world owes us constant comfort and security. This is a very western attitude. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” – Philippians 4 v 11b

We tend to have a habit of making plans and asking God to bless them later. That’s not really the idea!

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” – Jeremiah 29 vv 12-14a.
This is a great motto text for the year.

What the seeker is really looking for, whether they realise it or not, is Jesus.

“‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.'” – Matthew 7 vv 7-8

What tune is God calling us to play on the piano for Him to work around? We need to ask, seek and listen.

We need to put Jesus in the centre and He’ll take care of everything else. We mustn’t put our plans first, we mustn’t put the cart before the horse.

From Small Things

26 08 2013

Better late than never! After a busy weekend, have finally got round to typing up my Sunday sermon notes.

My notes normally start with lines that have struck me from the songs we’ve sung, then go through what we’ve heard in the sermon, and then anything from the final song, so I thought I may as well keep that up here. There’s bits missing from the sermons to, I just write down the bits that strike me. All it really is is a collection of thoughts I’m sharing just incase they help others!

“I’m so unworthy, but still You love me”

“All my sins are now forgiven
and my life is hidden
saved through Jesus Christ”

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust my feeble frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name”

Matthew 13 vv 31-33The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast

In those days, the word “Kingdom” was associated more with power and glamour, the rule of the Roman Empire. People hearing the stories about farming would maybe find that hard to understand.

The parable of the mustard seed

A mustard seed is about a millimetre in diameter, barely visible. It’s hard to believe that that speck can grow to a bush 6-12ft high – so large that birds shelter under it’s branches!

Sometimes we can see things as mediocre mustard seeds, but this parable teaches us to view things through the eyes of faith.

Jesus was the ultimate mustard seed. The son of a carpenter, He died on a wooden cross, saved for the worst of criminals, He was buried in a borrowed tomb, not at all impressive.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” – 1 Corinthians 1 v 25

What began in Israel breaks out into the whole world, the Kingdom is growing every time someone decides to make Jesus Lord and King of their life. He died and rose again to bring us into His Kingdom.

We’re heading towards Revelation 7 vv 9-10: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” A multitude – all tribe and tongue – not dissimilar to an afternoon in Westfields shopping centre?! But praising God!

The parable of the yeast

This is how the Kingdom grows.

The effects of yeast are massively disproportionate to it’s size. The effect Christian individuals and groups can have when they infiltrate society.

The yeast itself is hidden inside. The Holy Spirit is transforming us from within.

Rodney Start, in “The triumph of Christianity” argues that Christianity grew because of the way it cared for people, both within and outside of the church. He even cites pagan sources that complain about the good reputation Christians were gaining!

One of the greatest periods of social improvement cam through Christians in the late 18th and the whole 19th century. The abolition of the slave trade, improvements in education and also workers rights, for which the first fighters were Methodist preachers!

We need to be communities of yeast working quietly and effectively in our towns and cities. We should not underestimate our influence as Christians.

A little years and a small seed can go a long, long way. We just need to leave the results to God.

God works with the small, weak, unimpressive things. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

“We will not be crushed, Your hope will strengthen us”

“Through our lives, by Your Grace, may we overflow with Jesus”