Sunday, 8 December 2019

Spiritual Battle - Joshua 5 & 6

For Joshua and the people to advance there was a clear initial military objective to be achieved: overcome the fortified city of Jericho. For any advancing people it was a blocker. But God gives clear instructions via an angel-warrior - that this would not be by a single spear, boulder thrown, or battering ram.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Deception - Joshua 9

Joshua and the people are on a roll! They have trashed Jericho and then went on to defeat another important people under the King of Ai. The covenant is renewed and they are all feeling pleased with themselves. Nearby kings are right to be worried - they know they are next. So they form a coalition, ready to go to war in order to defend themselves.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

God-ward Steps - Joshua 3 - 5

Circa 3,000 years ago Joshua was told 'Be strong and courageous' for he will lead the whole Israelite people into the land God promised. Yet to do that they must first cross a river - a river that is in flood! The logical step of course is to go up to the river, which is what the people do - you can't cross an obstacle without first going up to it!

[UP] Are you okay with doing faith one step at a time?

Challenge: Pray with someone for just the next step

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Commissioning Joshua - Joshua 1:1 - 11

For Joshua the moment had come! He can now look back and realise his whole life was gearing up for this moment. After 4 decades of seeing Moses (as his mentor) commune closely with God, of seeing God speak to the whole people, and seeing God provide and inspire for them all ... the time is finally here. Joshua is called to step up and lead the new people, for them to be a new nation, worshipping and honouring God in a land newly given to them.

[OUT] Where is God calling you to lead courageously?

Challenge: Drop in a spiritual anecdote

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Need or Plenty - Philippians 4

We all know that for a tall building to withstand elements and earthquake it needs good foundations. We are told to build our house on the rock, not the sand. Do we translate this knowledge into our desire to ensure we have good spiritual foundations, a depth of relationship with Christ?

Sunday, 29 September 2019

All Rubbish - Phillippian 3

In my 2nd term of first year at uni my tutor summoned me for a chat. Though all my assignments were in on time and good, he gave me a pep-talk about how successful I could be - how I could even do so much better than others he had taught through the years ...

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Relationship Pattern - Philippians 2

All of what Paul writes here flows from the text he has already written - hence the 'therefore' starting this chapter. If we are in this together, living our lives on the line, not ashamed, courageously for Christ, then the stuff here in chapter can apply.

[IN] What does it mean for you to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus?

Challenge: Choose a way that affirms others

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Worship Overflow - Romans 12:1 - 8

Two profound statements of Jesus stand out for me: Jn 4:34 'My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, to finish his work', and Jn 19:30 (on the cross) 'It is finished'. The whole life of Jesus was sacrifice - from beginning to end. Of course it climaxed on the cross, but his whole life was lived as a sacrifice, sent by the Father to do His work.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Community Ministers - Ephesians 2:1 - 10

On the Titanic you could sale in the most opulent luxury available. Or if you were short on money you could make the crossing in 'steerage' below deck! Yet when the ship struck an iceberg and was sinking, all found themselves in the same boat: in need of saving! Ephesians 2 conveys the same blunt message: we are all in the same boat. We have all messed up. For all of us we can ask why should God bother with us, why not simply give us over to our fate? Our status, income, job are of no consequence.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Discipleship Together - Luke 19:11 - 26

Take a look at your little finger, and consider how awesome it is! You can wriggle your little finger, but look carefully. It needs muscles, connected bones, and connections that extend through your hand into your wrist! Its amazingly complex. Your little finger has a local inter-dependency for it to work. Now consider your arm. With that your little finger can do a whole lot more - taking part in grabbing and placing! Yet what does it need to survive? Connection with the whole body - for blood, oxygen and nutrients. Chopped off it will not survive.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Responsibility for Discipleship - Ephesians 5:15 - 16 / Gensis 1:26 - 28

An Algerian called Rafiq, from the semi-nomadic Berber tribe in N. Africa, spent some time in France but felt called back to the majority muslim countryside of his birth, to work among the remote shepherds. There people from the muslim backgrounds are coming to faith in Jesus. Yet they have no church buildings, they just gather as and when their paths intersect for teaching and worship. How do they maintain their faith in Jesus? It is by being rooted in Jesus and closely attending to their discipleship.

[UP] Are you able to simply dwell in His presence

Challenge: Take the Discipline of OFF seriously

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Big Things for Us - Ephesians 2 and 1 Peter 2

Ephesians 2:19 starts with the word consequently:

Consequently you are no longer ... but now ...

Its an important concept for us as a church - we are here as a church not because of some static idea, but because something has happened. The consequently is there because of Jesus and what God has done in Jesus. Because of Him things have changed!

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Being Sent - Isaiah 54 / Matthew 28

Jesus is risen and He is Lord! All the forces that would hold us in slavery have been dealt with and defeated. So we can now GO in freedom - to go out there. For us it is not to a specific land but rather to go to all kinds of lands, nations and ethnic groups. To each one helping them enter the Kingdom of Jesus by being in relationship with Him.

[OUT] To which people is God calling you to GO!

Challenge: Pray for these people

Monday, 15 April 2019

The Suffering Servant - Isaah 53 / Matthew 27

As we have heard before the block of Isaiah 40 - 55 describes a servant, although it is sometimes unclear whether it is talking of the whole of God's people or just one individual. For that individual the Spirit rests on him, anointing to bring justice, to lead people out. It will be a wide-ranging ministry, bringing in and including others, brought through this one person. Yet in chapter 53 this one servant suffers, is led out to die, is cut off, punished, and killed.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Vineyards - Isaiah 5 / Matthew 21

God sings a love song! Isaiah captures it in Isaiah 5, about the one He loved and His vineyard. Note that vineyards are long term investments, they take much work, time and resources. It involves clearing stones, planting, building a watch-tower and so on. It is therefore not cheap love - the lover invests those resources and looks after the vineyard. But quickly the love song turns sour. By verse 3 it is no longer a power ballad but more like Blues music!

[IN] Is God prodding you to re-focus to His fruitful purposes?

Challenge: Let the Son meet with you

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Fast Living - Isaiah 58 / Matthew 25

Arrive at an airport like Heathrow and passport control confronts you with a series of barriers channelling you into lanes. Jesus also told a story of a great hall where the people where channelled and separated out. A booming voice is heard declaring the criteria by which they are distinguished - a criteria that confuses them. "When did we see you hungry, thirsty, needing clothing or shelter?" they ask. See that in the Isaiah 58 passage the people are also confused: "Why have we fasted, yet you have not seen it?" was their question.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

I See ... - Isaiah 13, 34, Daniel 7, Matthew 24

Listen - a noise on the mountains, a great multitude, an uproar of kingdoms, nations amassing, God mustering an army for war! From faraway lands they come as the Lord's weapons to destroy, to lay the whole country waste. Wail, for the day of the Lord is near, a cruel day with wrath and fierce anger. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light, the sun darkened, the moon not giving its light. Come near nations, pay attention. The Lord is angry. The stars in the sky will be dissolved, heavens rolled up like a scroll. This is God's verdict.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Deep Listening - Isaiah 6 / Matthew 13

Video games are immersive experiences - even without the VR headsets! People have been known to game for hours and hours before re-emerging from their game. Yet we should remember that whilst the game might be compelling it is not the real world, it is a false reality, it is not actually living.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Chosen Servant - Isaiah 42 / Matthew 12

The whole block of Isaiah 40 - 55 conveys God's desire: that people are restored, picked back up and set right. God literally sings over His people and His servant, using poetic language to express His deeply held intent. Chapter 42 is the first of four 'servant songs', conveying emotional language: 'a bruised reed he will not break, a smouldering wick he will not snuff out'.

[UP] Do you get how much God is for us?

Challenge: Ask God 'who do you say I am?'

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Healing in Jesus - Isaiah 53 / Matthew 8

Isaiah 53 is one of the richest passages in the Bible to preach from - so here we will only scratch the surface. It conveys the notion of a servant, stemming from chapter 40 through to 55, which can be taken as a complete block. But note the servant does not match super-hero expectations. He does not look the part. Through the chapters the servant at first appears to be the people/nation of Israel, but later it seems to narrow to a single person - the anointed one sent by God, the one we know as Jesus.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Kingdom Life / Kingdom Sign - Isaiah 35 / Matthew 11

A couple of weeks ago we saw how John the Baptist was excited to meet Jesus. 'Behold the lamb of God' he called out, and on baptising Jesus saw the Spirit rest on him. It was a great moment. But now, some time later, Jesus is out ministering but John is confused. Thats because John is now in prison.

[OUT] Where do you see signs of the Kingdom?

Challenge: Add to a conversation: “I believe in Jesus who can change things ...”

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The Spirit Rested on Him - Isaiah 40 and Matthew 3

Comfort, comfort my people - Prepare the way for the Lord - His glory will be revealed - The word of the Lord endures for ever - The Lord comes with power, and cares tenderly. These are the voices calling out in Isaiah 40. Like an echo chamber the sentences bounce around in verses 1 - 11.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Sign of the Times - Isaiah 7 and Matthew 1

The country is in crises! The people don't know if their country will still be able to function in a few months time. The government and the rulers don't know either! Ordinary folk, business leaders, those in power - all are tearing their hair out. Other neighbouring countries have formed alliances which wields huge power. The country is hoping it might form new alliances to help out ...

[IN] What is God up to among us?

Challenge: Ask that question for your family, your ministry, and for church