Tag: Sermon Snippets

Stop Running

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Jonah 1:1-16, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.

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Jonah isn’t the story of a giant fish, but a giant God.

A God who is far bigger than we give Him credit for.

He isn’t just a local, tribal god, only interested in one group of people, even if those people are the Israelites.  He is a global God who cares enough about the whole world to send a messenger to the worst of cities to lovingly warn them.  He’s bigger than we think.

He’s the kind of God you couldn’t run away from if you tried.  He will always find you.

He’s so big that even if we shake our puny fists at the sky and say, “I won’t do what you want!”, He has a funny way of stopping us in our tracks and saying, “Not so fast, sunshine.”

He’s big enough to hurl a storm into the sea, the way you or I might skim a stone.  He’s the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

The one who decides the toss of a coin, so the finger of blame lands on the right man.

As the sailors put it in v14, “You, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.”

There are lots of ways in which we can point the finger at Jonah and say, “What an idiot,” but really we’re all a bit like him.  We’ve all said no to God in our own ways and headed off to do our own thing.  And from Adam and Eve onwards, we’ve tried to hide from Him.

Let the story of Jonah convince us – we can’t hide from Him!

God is bigger than we think… so we should stop running from Him.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

Fancy Some Lentil Stew?

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 12:14-29, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.

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In Genesis 25, we’re told the story of Esau and his younger twin, Jacob.  Esau is the hunter-gatherer type, the Alpha Male, who comes in from hunting one day, starving.  Meanwhile, younger brother, Jacob is more the stay-at-home, cooking type who has a delicious bread-and-lentil stew cooking on the fire.

‘Aw, gimme a bit!’ says Esau.

‘Sure,’ says Jacob ‘but it’ll cost you.’

‘What? name your price, my good man!’

‘Your birthright,’ says the quick-thinking Jacob.  (That’s all the rights of being the firstborn in the family, including larger bit of inheritance.)

And Esau agrees.  He swaps the promise of his inheritance for lunch.

In Hebrews 12:16-17, Esau is given to us as the ‘man of this world’.  He is the warning to us of someone who does not endure.

Esau made a momentous decision as he wondered about the value of his birthright.  It spelt blessing and privilege and position and power in the future.  It’s just like the promises of God for the Christian: they may be wonderful … but they are for the future.

Said Esau: You may, if you like, trust these promises and deny yourself here and go without here.  You can take the promises if you like.

But I’m not going to be like that.  I’m going to have it now.  I’m going to have my portion here.  I’m not enduring privation and hunger.  I’m going to enjoy myself.

Maybe you have seen a single meal like this ruin a Christian.  They indulge themselves.  They squander their future with God for a quick nibble of something now.  They grab at what Hebrews 11:25 calls ‘the fleeting pleasures of sin’.  They abandon striving to be holy (13:14).

The thing is that single meal doesn’t just ruin their life now.  It ruins a whole eternity for them.  So they never see the Lord (14).  They fail to obtain the grace of God (15).  Or, in the words of 3:7-4:11, they do not enter the heavenly rest.

Don’t exchange God’s unshakeable kingdom for a single meal, however starving you feel, however appetizing the lentil stew looks.  It’s just a lentil stew!

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

To Get Somewhere Great

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 12:4-13, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.

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“The Lord disciplines the one He loves!”

Hard times are training.  If we’re Christians, then they aren’t punishment, but they are teaching us something.

The Lord might be teaching us to trust Him, to lean on Him more, day by day.

It might be to remind us that this life isn’t the be all and end all, and our hopes should be set on heaven, the better country.

It might be to show us how the things we say hurt other people.

Or to make us better able to help others who are struggling, because we know what it’s like.

Or to sharpen our priorities so we decide again, “Yes, I do want to follow Jesus, rather than do my own thing and sin.”

Whatever it is,  God is a fantastic dad.  He knows us inside out and He knows the best way for us to learn is sometimes through a rough patch.

Often to get somewhere great, the journey is hard work…

Rather than asking, “What have I done to deserve this?”, why not ask, “What does my loving heavenly Father want to teach me through this?”

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

Camping… Just For Now

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 11:8-19, preached by Nigel Styles last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.

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The Christian believer is like Abraham in Hebrews 11.  We don’t think here-and-now is home.

However much of ‘the good life’ we get to enjoy in this world, this is not ‘it’.  We’re just making do.

It’s just like going on holiday in a tent.  Even if you’re glamping, you still have to ‘make do’.

Every morning, you go and collect the water.  You fill up a massive water carrier at the tap across the field.  You get sprayed with water from the tap, and then have to lug back the ridiculously heavy water Gerry can, soaking wet.  It doesn’t take long before you’re thinking: if I was living here, I’d sort this out!  I’d get proper plumbing, with running water and a tap in my tent.

It’s just the same with cooking: you have to make do with baked beans and sausages.

It’s the same with your clothes … they’re either strewn all over the tent, or squidged into a crumpled, tangled mess in your holdall.

But you make do in a tent, because you know it’s not forever.

God has promised us a better country, a heavenly one: it’s ‘the city that’s got foundations’.

And one day, Christians will pack up the temporary ‘tent’ that we live in in this world.  And we’ll go to our permanent house with foundations and bricks and double-glazing and running hot water and a bath and a washing machine and an electric blanket and carpets and a sofa and on and on.

That’s the picture in Hebrews 11 of being a believer: you dream of going home to the homeland we’ve been promised.

A place where there is no fighting, no fear, no farewells, no funerals. No hankies, no cancer.  No credit crunch, no banks, no locks or keys.  No broken homes.  And no broken hearts.

And all of that is permanent.

My hopes are not in this world at all.  Because God has prepared a heavenly country and that’s where I really belong.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.

When They Steal Your Phone…

Sermon Snippets’ is an occasional series, taking bitesize chunks from our Sunday sermons.  The following excerpt is adapted from a sermon on Hebrews 10:19-39, preached by Nathan Burley last Sunday.  You can listen to the whole sermon here.

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Imagine getting home from church one day to find your windows smashed in, your TV and laptop gone, and your stuff strewn all over the road.

And just as you’re trying to work out what’s happened, you see the graffiti down the side of your house.  Big letters:

CHRISTIAN SCUM

How would you react to that?  To what Christians face all over the world today.

In Laos a month ago, 13 Christians were told that if they didn’t drink the sacred water and return to their old animist religion, they would be evicted and the authorities would tear down their homes.

What would you do?

Here’s what they did.  Middle of v34 – this is mind-blowing.  “you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property”

Why?!

“since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.”

Now that is holding fast without wavering.

Joyfully accepting it?!  When they slash your tyres or steal your phone because you invited them to church?

When bad things happen to us, especially when it’s because we’re Christians, it’s so much easier to follow the crowd.  Or to doubt God’s goodness.

But remember the lengths He’s gone to!  On the basis of everything we’ve learnt about Jesus, stick with it.  Remember how He bled for us.  Remember how He’s there now, pleading our case before God.  And how He’s coming back soon.

God is faithful.  He will come good on every single promise He’s made.

So they can take our stuff!  We’ve got better stuff coming!

Smash my house up.  I’ve got a better house waiting for me!  One that will last.  Where moth & rust don’t destroy, and thieves can’t break in and steal.

So break in and steal all you want.  Knock yourself out!  Because ultimately you can’t hurt me.

That’s how confident we can be.

Let’s hold fast.  Let’s not waver.  Because God is faithful.

Listen to the rest of the sermon here.