Category: Articles

Always Remember

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Joshua 3:1-5:12, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


In Joshua 3, God’s people face an impossibility.

Ahead of them lay the land that, for centuries, God had been promising to give them.  But between where they stood and the land itself was the River Jordan.

At that time of year, it was not a placid stream, but a swollen, raging torrent, probably a mile wide, up to 10-12 feet deep, with a mass of jungle-growth on the riverbed.

God did the most extraordinary thing.  He took the liquid water of that river and turned into something that behaved more like a solid, standing it up in a heap!  And Israel crossed over on dry ground.

God told Israel that they must always remember what had happened.  (I guess that generation wouldn’t quickly forget it!)  Twelve stones, carried from the middle of the river, stacked up on the bank as a memorial, would provide a permanent reminder for every subsequent generation.

Always remember: God kept his promise
He’s said that he would bring them into this land.  And he had done it.  Impossible?  Yes, it was.  But God did it.  A raging torrent of a river could not stop him doing what he’d said.

Always remember: God will keep every promise
The land that God was to give Israel was full of seven tribal groups.  If God can open up the way into the land, he’ll also be able to clear the land.  Have confidence that if God has promised to do something, he will certainly do it.

Always remember: God will take his people home
Christians have long understood that Israel’s journey from the Exodus through the wilderness into the Promised Land is just like the Christian’s journey to our heavenly home.  So that ‘when I tread the verge of Jordan’, I can have great confidence that even the dreadful river of death need not cause anxious fear.  For our God will keep his promise and take us home.

How can I have confidence?  Always remember.  The three stones that we threaded into bracelets during our Sunday service are to remind us of these three things.

Listen to the rest of the talk recorded live at our All Age Service here.


It must be the New Year!  My inbox is being bombarded.  Shops invite me to spend, spend, spend.  Gyms order me to work off the Christmas flab.  And Elite singles tell me to ‘find love in 2015’.  There’s a clean calendar on our kitchen wall to help us keep schedules on track.

Here’s something to commit to in this year ahead: let’s say our prayers and read our Bibles.

Right up front, let’s admit it.  This is something we find hard work and where we’re embarrassed by how little we do it.  We might say that that the reason we don’t say our prayers and read our Bibles more regularly is because we’re too busy.  But, do I do it more on my day off and on my holidays (when I do have the time)?  No.  So this is not really a time problem.  It’s a heart problem.

And if it’s a heart problem, we won’t be changed without God’s help.  What I need is for God to give me a delight in in listening to him.  And a delight in speaking to him.

If we treat our Quiet Times like a duty, then that’s the tone they will take: a dutiful activity that is meant to be ‘completed’.  But if our Quiet Times are moments to delight in our God, then they become something that we look forward to, and don’t want to miss.

How can I grow in my enjoyment of the Bible? I could give you links to ‘through-the-year reading plans’ and advertise some helpful Bible reading notes.  But instead I’m going to give you a reading plan for just the rest of January.  Psalm 119.  I know, just one Psalm!  It has 22 sections that are all about the Christian delighting in their Bible and what God says there.  Each section is short – just 8 verses.  Why not read one section every day this month, and pray that in 2015 God will grow you in delighting in what he has to say.

How can I grow in my enjoyment of prayer?  Every religion prays.  In fact most people pray at some point or another.  But only the Christian can say that we pray to the God who is our Father.  That’s the foundational beginning of the Lord’s prayer: our Father in heaven (Matt 6:9).  It shapes how we pray: your Father sees (Matt 6:4,6).  And it encourages our confidence as we pray: your Father knows what you need (Matt 6:8).

Remember that God is our Father.  It’s the heart of the gospel.  Remembering who we pray to should transform how we pray.  And how much we pray.  So here’s my Prayer Help for the rest of January.  Read Matthew 6:5-15 each day.  And ask what difference it makes that I pray to God as Father.  And pray that in 2015 God will grow you in the delight of speaking to him.

Nigel Styles


Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Colossians 2:6-15, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


Martin Luther wrote that when Satan tells us that we are sinners, he is actually reminding us of the mercy and kindness of Christ our Redeemer.  He is reminding me of the death of Jesus that has thoroughly dealt with all my sins.  He points me to the place where I can be comforted me immeasurably.

Imagine a list of all you’ve done wrong – all the many things that Satan likes to remind us about.  This long list is like a huge IOU of what we owe God.

In our passage from Colossians 2, Paul pictures the cross of Jesus and points above his head to the place where the felonies of the crucified criminal are normally nailed.  And Paul sees there not the ‘the king of the Jews’ sign that actually hung there, but my list of my crimes nailed to his cross.  All my sins are listed up there.

And the place where they hang, flapping in the wind, is a reminder of mercy and kindness.  For the punishment has been meted out, not on me but on that man hanging there.  The debt to society has been paid by him.  That IOU has been nailed above a prisoner who has died for those crimes.

And my criminal record – which should be so condemning – is cancelled.

It’s a very vivid picture saying that our forgiveness is complete.  And how immeasurably comforting this is.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

Why Are We Having A Church Lunch?


This Sunday after the service, we’ll be enjoying a big meal together as a church.  Whoever you are, you’re welcome to come!

But why do we have these church lunches?  Lots of reasons.  Here are 2 quick ones.

Because we’re a family!

Church isn’t special interest group or a club.  It isn’t an institution or a service provider.  First and foremost, church is a family.  And families eat together!

Sharing food breaks boundaries and creates community.  As we sit across the table from someone, we become closer, and those we are close to, we want to eat with.  We talk a lot about being a loving family, but what kind of true family would we be if food never got involved?

In his wonderful book, A Meal With Jesus, Tim Chester puts it like this:

“Many people love the idea of the church as a community.  But when we eat together, we encounter not some theoretical community, but real people with all their problems and quirks.  The meal table is an opportunity to give up our proud ideals by which we judge others and accept in their place the real community created by the cross of Christ, with all its brokenness.  It’s easy to love people in some abstract sense and preach the virtues of love.  But we’re called to love the real individuals sitting around the table.”

Obviously this sort of loving community isn’t a once-a-term thing.  It should be happening as part of the normality of our life together.  But about once each term, we express our oneness as a family by eating all together.  And we throw wide open the invitation to whoever wants to join us.

This Sunday, Pete and Ruth are bringing Olivia to be baptised.  It’s a family occasion.  And that’s why everyone at church is invited, because we are one big family.

Because there’s so much to celebrate!

Another reason we eat together is because when people have good news, they eat with their families!  Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas…  celebrating means eating with others.

As Christians, we have the greatest news of all.  Jesus has taken us in all our rebellion, and died for us so that we can be reconciled to Him and brought in as friends.  As one song we sing says,

“Your blood has washed away my sin.  Jesus, thank you.
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied.  Jesus, thank you.
Once your enemy, now seated at your table.  Jesus, thank you!”

When Jesus wanted to leave us a way to remember what He did for us, He left us a meal.  In communion, we eat as one family in remembrance and celebration of His death in our place.  We look forward to the feast which is to come when He returns.  To be a Christian is to be a person who celebrates this good news, and we do that through food together.

This Sunday’s lunch isn’t “The Lord’s Supper”.  But it is still a significant thing to do together.  A group of former slaves-to-sin who are now set free to live as a family welcoming in the lost.  So we eat together in celebration.

There are plenty of other reasons to do it.  Why not get hold of a copy of A Meal With Jesus to think it through more?  And this Sunday, let’s come expecting to celebrate as a family.

Eat up, there’s plenty more!

Blobfish & Voyager-1

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Colossians 1:15-20, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.


Jesus is a bigger deal than we think.

Lots of people today think He’s just an interesting historical figure, maybe not even that.  But no, Jesus is supreme.

Why?  v16 “For by him all things were created.”

And in case we don’t know what “all things” means, Paul spells it out!  “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him & for him.”

ALL things.  Wherever, whatever, whoever.  If it exists, Jesus made it.

This week the aptly named blob fish was voted the ugliest animal in the world.

 You may never have seen one of those before.  Apologies that you now can’t unsee it!  There are countless creatures like this.  Strange species, some massive, some tiny, all so different.

And Jesus made all of them.  All His idea.  You might think the blobfish is a bit a weird thing to think up, but where’s the last fish you invented?

No-one can do what Jesus can do.

On the other end of the spectrum, this week NASA announced that Voyager-1, which launched in 1977, just became the first man-made object to leave our solar system.

It’s around 19 billion km away.  Which is a lot compared to how far most of us travelled to get to church.  But it’s about a millimetre compared to the known universe.  To give some perspective, in about 40,000 years, Voyager 1 might get within a light year or so of another star other than the sun.  That’s the scale of the universe.

Jesus created all of it.  He’s supreme over creation because He made it all.

Is that what you think of when hear the name ‘Jesus’?

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.