Three people share their first hand experiences of the difference Jesus makes when: you're on your own in a difficult situation; when you need to overcome your fears; and when you're faced with the loss of a loved one through illness. And of course the greatest difference Jesus makes is on the day this this life ends and we stand before Him knowing that we have trusted in Him and accepted His offer of forgiveness and salvation.
Colossians 1:15-20 Three contemporary questions: If there is a God what is he/she/it like? Why is our world so full of chaos, conflict and suffering? What can be done to make the world a better place? These few verses provide the answers: God is like Jesus; Jesus holds all things together - remove Him and all things fall apart; reconciliation with God through Jesus leads ultimately to the restoration of creation.
Colossians 1:9-14. With the story of Exodus in the back of his mind, Paul reminds the Colossian Christians that Jesus has won for them a new exodus from the slavery of sin to freedom of life in the Spirit. He prays that they may know the will of God, but perhaps more importantly, that they will know God Himself.
Colossians 1:1-8 This term we are studying this letter from Paul, written from prison in Ephesus to a church he never actually visited. In our passage today he reminds them of the hope they have 'stored up in heaven' and commends the example of Epaphras 'a faithful minster of Christ' who brought the Gospel to them.
At the start of a new term we look at the two 'bolts of life' that we need to have in place to live life to the full. The two 'bolts' are the answers to the questions 'Who am I?' and 'What is my life for?'. Get those 'bolts' in the right place at the beginning and the rest of life will hold together.
Luke 10:1-20. If building the Kingdom of God is a matter of following Jesus, listening to what He says, watching what He does and then doing the same, how come we so often find it so difficult? This morning we explore five reasons why we stumble and make things difficult for ourselves.
I Corinthians 2:26- 2:5 and Mark 1-3. Jesus steps into history, announces that the Kingdom of God is coming, and invites people to follow Him. As they do they listen to what He has to say and watch what He does. Then he issues a second call to follow Him, but this time the call involves not just learning about who He is, but also about becoming like Him and doing the things He does. At all points it is Jesus who takes the initiative and our part is simply to listen, observe and then obey. Easy!
Gideon has misunderstood who God is and who he is as a child of God. As a result he finds himself hiding in a winepress rather than taking on his enemies. The recovery of a proper perspective in both of these areas lead him to a great victory in the power of God. The story is a challenge and encouragement to us who often make the same mistakes.
Revelation 3:14-22. The last of the seven letters is addressed to a church without any redeeming features, but one which has succumbed to self-sufficiency and pride. Jesus loves this church but finds Himself on the outside knocking to be asked back in.
Revelation 3:1-13. In Philadelphia we find a small church community under pressure from Hellenistic culture and Jewish traditionalists, and yet which is commended for keeping Jesus' word and not denying His name. He promises them that there is an open door for sharing the Gospel, that He will sustain them through times of trial, and that He is coming soon.
Revelation 3:1-6. Like the city in which it exists the Church at Sardis seems to have become overly complacent and comfortable, troubled neither by heresy from within, nor opposition from the pagan community without. The challenge is for her to wake up before it is too late. Like the other letters this one serves as a powerful mirror in which to examine ourselves and our own church communities.
Revelation 2:12-17. The church at Pergamum is in the home of the Roman capital of Asia with a proconsul holding the power of life and death, and the centre of worship for the Greek pantheon of gods. They are holding firm against enormous pressure but some have succumbed to the temptation to compromise with the world around. Jesus gives a challenge to them to repent - or judgement will be forthcoming.
Revelation 2:8-11. The Christian community in Smyrna is being crushed under the weight of opposition, most notably from the Jewish community. But Jesus commends them for their faithfulness. Reminding them of His sovereignty and victory over death, He reassures them and us that there is nothing to fear and nothing that others can do to us that will deprive us of the crown of life that is ours in Him.
Revelation 2:1-7. Jesus commends the church at Ephesus for her zeal for purity and orthodoxy, but challenges her over her loss of love for the lost. With many similarities between Ephesus in the 1st century and Western Europe in the 21st, we are challenged to hold fast to the truths of the Gospel in terms of Biblical lifestyle and belief, but not at the expense of failing to show God's generous and extravagant love to the world.
Acts 27:7-26. Paul Young CEO of Brighton and Hove-based charity Off the fence, unpacks Paul's experience of storm and shipwreck, reminding us that however storms come (and come they will) God will never abandon us and will continue to work out His purposes.
Revelation 1:9-20. In a vision John sees Jesus in all His risen glory. With echoes of Daniel 7, and Jesus' identification with the 'Son of Man' we are reminded of God's character of love that leads Him to sacrifice Himself on our behalf.
Revelation 1:1-8 Introducing a new series of talks looking at the letters to seven churches. The questions facing Christians in the first century are the same ones we wrestle with in the 21st - Why is Jesus' return so long delayed? Why do Christians suffer so much for their faith? How do we live in a culture where the prevailing 'religion' rejects Christ as Lord? Where is history headed? Revelation has the answers!
Luke 19:28-44. On this Palm Sunday we focus on the crowd who accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem, worshipping Him for the miracles that they had seen. We reflect on the journey that we must make from loving Jesus for what He does, to loving Him for who He is - the Messiah, the King of Kings. Following Jesus will inevitably lead us into conflict as we come up against the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms that are ranged against Him and us. Ultimately we must choose whether to be swept up in the things that Jesus is doing, or be swept aside by Him.