To have Leprosy is bad news at any time- in first century Palestine, it would leave you helpless, ostracised- an outsider in every way possible. When a Leper approaches, the gathered crowd would have expected Jesus to steer clear of him- yet instead, Jesus touches him, bringing healing and cleansing- life in all its fullness. Reading: Luke 5:12-16
In his Baptism, Jesus identifies with sinful humanity. After being Baptised, Jesus hears his heavenly Father speak words of delighted affirmation and sonship over him. Taken together, these two things are life-changing good news- through Jesus, Christians can know God as their heavenly Father. As we begin this series, we also note the reliability of Luke's Gospel. Bible reading: Luke 3:15-22
As we finish the book of Amos, we are given a glimpse of God, and a glimpse of his purposes that go beyond judgement- a restored, renewed creation. As we look back through the book of Amos, we see two things held in tension- that God hates sin and will judge it, and that God loves his people and will deliver them. Bible reading: Amos 9
Amos 7 & 8 are doses of cold, hard reality- God's judgement is coming, and Israel has ignored one warning too many- is too late to avoid judgement. None of us know how long we will have until we face God to make account of our lives- we can be grateful that today is an opportunity to turn to Christ. Bible readings: Amos 7&8
In chapters 5 & 6 of Amos, the Prophet speaks out against complacency. Through material comfort, military confidence and religious formalism, Israel had become complacent, and were no longer attuned to the voice of God. Amos' message presents challenges for us today- for our nation, for our national church, for us at Christ Church, and for each of us individually.
In Chapters 3&4 of Amos, we hear of God's fierce judgement over Israel. This judgement is not in spite of God's love for his people, but because of it. Rather than fearing and hating God's judgement, a Christian will know that God's judgement over sin is a good thing, and respond to God's warnings with gratitude. Bible readings: Amos 3&4, Luke 13:1-5
In the Bible, we often see God speaking to his people in ways that are quiet and still. In Amos we come across a God who roars with a wild, fierce passion over his broken world. As we begin looking at the message of Amos, are we ready to meet this God? And are we prepared to hear this roar most powerfully in Jesus? Bible readings: Amos 1&2
In John 14, Jesus comforts his disciples with news of a 'comforter' who is to come. The disciples do not know at the time, but they will soon understand that Jesus will still be with them, even after he has ascended, through his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will enable the disciples to know Jesus deeply, and to proclaim the good news with clarity, confidence and compassion. Readings: John 14:8-15, 25-27, Acts 2:1-21
Two disciples walk on the road, away from Jerusalem. They don't know Jesus is alive; in fact, they have rejected the claim. Jesus walks alongside them. God opens their eyes to the truth with His word, but also through hospitality. As a parish church, we have a duty to share Christ with the 10'000 or so who live in our Parish through proclamation and hospitality . Being a people of the Cross will give us the motivation, power, and humility that we need.
In Psalm 1, we are given the image of a tree planted by a stream of water; because it is connected to a never-ending source of life, the tree can withstand the pressures of drought and sunshine. In the same way, we are invited to take steps into the life of Christ. Bible readings: Psalm 1, Matthew 7:13-27
In this new season, we consider our Mission Action Plan; not as a box to tick, but as a vision for the long-term ministry and mission of Christ Church. Paul tells the church in Galatia 'May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ'- our hope and prayer is that Jesus Christ will be our only boast, our only motivation, our only security. Following Jesus faithfully is the be-all and end-all of church life. The implications of 'boasting only in the cross' are life-changing and challenging. Bible reading: Galatians 6:11-18
At the end of Leviticus, God tells Israel of the joy and blessings that will come from following him, and the curses and pain that will come from turning away. In this reading, we see that even the painful parts of life can be ways that God brings us back to him. When suffering comes, will we see God's hand in it as we turn back to him?
Reading: Leviticus 26
Leviticus 25 shows a radical way of ordering human society- every 50 years, all land would be returned to original owners, and all debts would be called off. This would involve trusting God for his provision, assurance of redemption, and the promise of a fresh start. All of these are found and fulfilled in Jesus. Readings: Leviticus 25, Matthew 6:25-34.
In Leviticus 23, God gives Israel yet another gift- an annual cycle of festivals that remember and anticipate God's goodness to them. In this talk, we see how these festivals point towards Jesus. Bible readings: Leviticus 23, Psalm 98
In Leviticus 23, God repeats the command that Israel is to set aside a day each week for rest. We often consider rest in terms of work/life balance, creativity and productivity, but Leviticus talks in terms of Holiness. Sabbath is about finding rest in God; for Christians, our rest is found in Christ. Readings: Leviticus 23:1-3 and Matthew 11:25-30.
chapters 11-15 of Leviticus contains detailed rules regarding food, illness, tent care and bodily discharge. Although it seems arbitrary, it is in fact a rich symbolic system for ritual purity, in order that they could dwell with a Holy God. Jesus radically changes how we read these laws- Christians are to value purity and integrity, but are free from the constraints of these chapters. What is more, when Jesus comes face to face with uncleanness, he offers compassion, wholeness and healing. Bible readings: Leviticus 11:1-12, 41-45, Leviticus 15:25-31, Mark 5:24-34
'out, damn spot!' Sin stains and spoils. In Leviticus, 4, God gives his people a way to know forgiveness and purity through the shedding of animal blood. For Christians, Jesus' blood is the final, complete, and only sacrifice we will ever need. However, Sin will still disrupt our relationship with God- and damage our joy in him. Honest confession and repentance is one of the ways that God gives us to know forgiveness and purity today. Bible reading: Leviticus 4&5.
Unlike the anxious sacrifices of the neighbouring cultures, Israel's offerings were given as joyful response to God's rescue and provision. In Leviticus 1, we read of the Burnt Offering- where precious gifts would go up in smoke. Christians can know that in Jesus, God has provided the only sacrifice we could ever offer God- but the call to offer what is precious to us remains. We can do so knowing that nothing that is offered to Christ is wasted. Bible reading: Leviticus 1-3
Leviticus is one of the more difficult and books of the Bible, but it's major themes should be familiar to all Christians- Leviticus is how a Holy God can draw near to his people, show them how to be Holy, and arranges provision for when they fail to be Holy. The story of Nadab and Abihu is shocking, but demonstrates that God's Holiness is not something to be taken for granted.
Apologies that the first 30 seconds of the sermon are missing. Bible reading: Leviticus 10:1-17
The Christian life is a battle- we have an enemy who is determined to rob us of our joy in Christ. Paul urges us to put on the armour of God, in certainty that when we hold tight to the Gospel, we are safe from the temptations and despair of the devil. Bible reading: Ephesians 6:10-24
We live in a culture where personal freedom and autonomy are seen as essential for human happiness. The Bible speaks of a different way- communities of mutual submission and love are where people flourish best. In Chapter 5 and 6 of Ephesians, Paul shows examples of what this looks like in different areas of life. Bible reading: Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Paul encourages the Ephesians to take off the old life of sin, ignorance, and darkness, and put on new life in Christ. This is something all Christians struggle with, and yet deep change can only come as a gift of God. In our daily fight, we can be encouraged that growing in holiness is always battle, is largely invisible, and is usually slow- yet Christ will continue his work in each one of us. reading: Ephesians 4:17-32
You won't find a group of people as diverse as the church; in a world that tends towards fracture, the church is a sign of a new humanity that God is creating through Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians chapter 4, we learn that the unity of the church is not an end to itself, but that its' purpose is that we might grow into maturity in Christ. For that to happen, each of us has a role to play. Bible reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
Much of the religion around at the time Paul wrote to the Ephesians was based on 'mysteries'- invite-only secret knowledge. By contrast, God's mysteries are an 'open secret' revealed in Christ. God's infinite grace is available, through Jesus, to all; Paul's prayer is that his readers would grasp how 'wide and long and high and deep' the love of Christ is. Bible reading: Ephesians 3
Ephesians 2 shows us three major transformations that Christians can be thankful for- from spiritual death to life in Christ, from hostile strangers into loving community, and finally into a living temple. Bible reading: Ephesians 2
When Paul prays for the persecuted Christians in Ephesus, he doesn't pray for them to stop being persecuted- he prays that they might know God better. Ephesians 1:15-23 shows how we can know God, and tells us of the hope that comes from being Christ's treasure. Bible reading: Ephesians 1:15-23
We begin our new series on Ephesians with a look at Paul's opening prayer. We unpack the blessings that Christians have in Christ- we are saved into community, we are saved into security, and we are saved for a purpose. Bible reading: Ephesians 1:1-14, Luke 12:22-32
The Ephesians are doing a brisk trade selling religious merchandise, until a growing number of Christians begin to affect their profits because they no longer buy idols. The second half of Acts 19 shows the effect that Christians can have on the surrounding culture, and gives us some principles for doing so. Bible reading: Acts 19:23-41
Paul arrives in Athens unexpectedly, and is distressed by the idolatry around him. The Athenians problem isn't that they are religious, but that they are worshipping false gods in ignorance. By God's grace, Paul is able to understand the culture, and speak into it powerfully. In doing so, Paul shows us how to address the idols of our own age, and in doing so points us to the living God of Jesus Christ. Bible reading: Acts 17:16-34
by Nigel Bennett Series: Gospel Explosions download
Paul and Barnabas in Lystra ()
Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for gods- and the response of the crowd shows their fear and anxiety. Paul shows the people of Lystra that the living God is bigger, better and kinder than they think. Whilst we today have vastly superior technology to the ancient world, we have the same basic anxieties that the ancients did- the comfort and joy of the good news of Jesus brings comfort and joy to us today.
Bible reading: Acts 14:8-20
Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian Eunuch is clearly supernatural, but has some very familiar human elements to it as well. These two men were different from one another in most conceivable ways, and yet by the end of the encounter they are brothers in Christ. As Christians, we are called to demonstrate some of the same cross-cultural humility and courage that Philip and the Ethiopian show, so that we may know and share Christ's fulfilment of our deep loneliness and longing for acceptance. Bible reading: Acts 8:26-40
The coming of the Holy Spirit transforms Jesus' followers- not into uniformity, but into diversity. Pentecost re-tells the story of Babel, transcending cultural, religious and racial barriers around the Lordship of Jesus. Listening well to the world around us- especially those whom we disagree with, or want to introduce to Christ- is a key part of following Jesus in our century as much as in the first.
The Ascension is a commonly underestimated festival in the Christian year- St Augustine called it 'the crown of all the feasts'. The Ascension gives us the assurance that Christ reigns supreme, but doesn't leave us gawping at the sky- it sends us out into the world to share the love of Christ. Bible reading: Acts 1:1-11
In our age of 'DIY' spirituality, our hearts crave a meaning and purpose to life that is bigger than ourselves, but also personal. Only Christianity can offer this. After his Resurrection, Jesus appears to his disciples, not as a ghost, but as a real person to give them solid hope. In this next season of church life, our hope and prayer is that we will increasingly put our trust in Christ. Bible reading: Luke 24:36-49
In Job 42, we read of Job's final satisfaction in God. Job is not given the reason for his suffering, but he does experience the blessing of restored joy in God, and riches beyond his previous fortune. Job's restoration is a tantalising glimpse of the full and final restoration of heaven and earth that will be completed in Christ. Bible reading: Job 42
The God of the Bible does not meet our expectations. When God speaks to Job, he doesn't come gently and offer him a solution or explanation for his troubles. Instead, God arrives as a terrifying whirlwind and shows Job a glimpse of his awesome glory; within the whirlwind Job finds the 'terrible and tingling atmosphere of something too good to be told' (GK Chesterton). It is good news that God is not like us, and that he is far beyond our imagination and understanding. Bible readings: Job 38-41, Matthew 8:28-34
Elihu is the last human voice to enter the conversation with Job. In his speech, he contends that suffering is not meaningless, and that God can use our pain to draw us to himself, and grow in our maturity in Christ. Suffering and pain are a certain part of life. What is less certain is how we respond. Will suffering bring us closer to God, or further away from him? Readings: Job 32-27, John 16:29-33
With Zophar's harsh and unhelpful counsel, something in Job snaps. Job doesn't want to hear another word of human wisdom- he wants God. In the midst of terrible personal circumstances, the thing he grieves most is God's presence. Whatever the cost to himself, Job simply wants to be before Almighty God. When we suffer in life, will we turn from God, or towards him?
Readings: Job chapters 11-14 (selections) and Luke 13:1-5
Job's friend Bildad is even less helpful than Eliphaz, turning Job's misery against him. Surely, all this disaster is your fault, Job? In despair, Job cries out for vindication, knowing that being counted righteous and innocent before God is his only hope. In crying out for a defence, Job points us towards Jesus- the Christians' true access to God, and our true righteousness before God's Holy throne. Bible readings: Job 8-11, Luke 23:44-47
How to Lose friends and alienate people: What do you say when someone is struggling? Job is in a pit of grief and despair, and eventually his friends begin to share their thoughts on Job's suffering. They're not very helpful. Eliphaz is first to speak, and although he speaks words of truth, he is far too simplistic and pious. The book of Job shows us that the problem of suffering is not a puzzle to solve, but a deep mystery. Bible readings: Job 4:1-11, 5:6-11, 5:17-27
The book of Job is disturbing, bleakly beautiful, and deeply challenging. In the midst of the deepest pain, Job refuses to let go of his confidence in God's sovereignty. In doing so, Job points us towards the suffering and obedience of Jesus Christ. Bible readings: Job 1-2, John 9:1-12
John the Baptist's ministry was mighty, but it was simple- he pointed people to Jesus Christ. In this talk, guest preacher John Adams (Emmanuel church, Wimbledon) encourages us to do the same. Reading: Mark 1:1-8
Christ the King of everything (including your wallet) ()
The Pharisees set a trap for Jesus, using a controversial issue of the day to try and get him into trouble. Instead, Jesus points to our obligation to give to God all that belongs to him- our entire lives. Bible passages: Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Matthew 22: 15-22
How we view and spend our money is an essential part of our response to the Gospel as disciples of Jesus. In this talk, we see how God's priority isn't our wallets, but our hearts. Bible readings: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, Mark 12:41-44
When human beings insist on being glorified, it is deeply unattractive. What are we to make of God's command that we worship him only, and seek his glory above all others? The God of the Bible is not needy, and is glorified both by his creation and our redemption. The most soul-satisfying way to live is to cherish God's glory. Bible readings: Psalm 115:1-8, Luke 2:8-20
A talk by Rev'd Dr Mark Smith, Chaplain of Christ's College, Cambridge, and Lecturer in Church History, University of Cambridge. Mark explores the background, impact and continuing influence of the reformation.
by Rev'd Dr Mark Smith Series: Reformation 500 download
Scripture Alone: 29/10/17 ()
500 years ago, people across Europe were willing to risk being burned alive in order to read their Bibles in English. The truth that led them to do that was new and exciting to them, but dangerously familiar to us: The Bible is God's Word, given to us, and the ultimate authority for our lives. In this talk, we see that the Bible is enough, the Bible is challenging, and the Bible is personal. Readings: Psalm 19, Luke 24:13-27
Salvation is offered to us through Christ, by Grace. We grasp that for ourselves by Faith in Jesus. In this talk, we hear that Faith in Christ is reasonable, Faith in Christ is personal, Faith in Christ is a gift, Faith in Christ is life-changing, and your Faith in Christ in insufficient- but the good news is that Christ's Faith is enough. Readings: Romans 5:1-11, Luke 5:17-26
We live in a world that is hungry for grace. The Bible shows us that our need for grace is deeper than we realise, but likewise God's grace to us in Christ is bigger still, and bought at a dearer cost than we can imagine. Bible readings: Ephesians 2:1-10 (also Mark 10:13-16)
Jesus Christ claims to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Whilst this is controversial, those who put their trust in Christ know him to be their comfort, their joy, and their hope for the future. Bible Readings: Colossians 1: 15-20, John 14:1-7.