“I AM” – Exodus 2:23-4:31 – Sermon Notes

The Lord has not forgotten his people (2:23-25) and the Lord calls Moses (3:1-10). He made sure Moses has all the experience he needs to speak to the Egyptians. However Moses has been living for 40 years in Midian. The Lord had guided him to the mountain of God. Moses has an encounter with the living God when he sees the burning bush.

The Lord patiently answers Moses’ questions (3:11-4:12)

  • “Who am I to go?” (3:11-12)
  • “Who are you?” (3:13-22)

Whenever the Lord is written in capital letters, it refers to this name – “I AM” – the one who always has been always will be. “Milk and honey” comes up a lot and refers to plenty. The Lord is the God of the whole earth and of the past, present and future and is the one who is sending Moses.

  • “They won’t believe me.” (4:1-9)

The Lord gives Moses three signs to show he’s not making this up and to help the Israelites believe he has been sent from the great I AM.

  • “I’m not a good speaker.” (4:10-12)

The Lord will help Moses speak. He is patient.

The Lord expects obedience and worship (4:13-31)

Moses asks the Lord to send someone else. He’s now disobeying and the Lord is angry, but he’s still patient and says he’ll help both him and Aaron. Aaron will be Moses’ messenger. Moses now has to go and the Lord reminds him to take his staff. We are reminded how seriously the Lord takes obedience. The Lord’s anger is stopped when Zipporah circumcises one of their sons.

Jesus is the Lord

Jesus was often criticised. He said “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” Jesus is the great I AM, the only eternal God. He has not forgotten us. If you’re a Christian you are one of God’s people. Jesus calls all people to follow him and he calls all Christians to be witnesses for him, wherever they are. Are we praying that we’d see the opportunities he gives us? Just as with Moses, sometimes our questions aren’t really questions, they’re excuses. There are consequences for disobeying Jesus. If we turn to him, he is a loving father.

Rescuer – Exodus 2:1-22 – Sermon Notes

The Lord has provided a rescuer for his people (v1-12)

God is telling us about this baby because he is someone significant. This baby is going to be a priest. With him, this is a new beginning for God’s people. Pharaoh uses the Nile to kill all baby boys but God uses the Nile as his rescue of this baby.

The Lord is at work in Pharaoh’s daughter as she has compassion on the baby she finds in the river. We don’t know how many years go by between verses 9 and 10 but Moses was old enough to know about his heritage. Spending years in the palace didn’t blind Moses to who his people are.

The Lord’s rescuer is also ruler and judge (v13-22)

The Lord raised Moses up for this purpose. That’s not what the people want. Pharaoh tried to kill Moses. He probably knew he was a Hebrew boy but also hoped he would stand with the Egyptians instead of the Israelites. This isn’t God’s rescuer being stopped. God takes him to where he needs to be. He rescued seven foreigners and was invited in for food. Moses married one of the daughters and had a family in a new space. This isn’t the end of the story. He named his son “an alien here.”

What the Lord does for his rescuer, he will do for his people

This is a glimpse of what God will do through Moses to rescue his people. Moses was brought up with the Egyptians but as the Israelites are rescued by the Lord, they will plunder them. The Lord is going to bring them all out to safety.

Moses, the Lord’s imperfect rescuer, points us to Jesus, the Lord’s perfect rescuer

When Jesus is born, Herod wants all the Israelite boys killed. He comes down from the glory of heaven to stand with his people in weakness and humility. As he’s rescuing them, he is oppressed and rejected. We can have confidence we can follow Jesus as he’s been there before us. Moses is a glimpse of the better rescuer that Jesus is. Jesus says that he will forgive you but you must live with him as your ruler. His rescue helps us to see the kind of ruler that he is. The more we rejoice in his rescue, the more we can trust that his rule is for our good.

Slavery – Exodus 1:1-22 – Sermon Notes

God’s plan has always been to save sinful people. He promised Abraham people, land and blessing (Genesis 12:2-3). As the people grow, they shape the promises of the Bible.

In Exodus 1, we see slavery. That doesn’t seem like things are going the way of the promises. The people are in a horrific situation. We’re not told how many baby boys are killed, but it’s likely that there were a lot. Doesn’t our experience seem far from God’s promises? Christians are the true family of God. Has God abandoned us when things don’t go well? Our temptation could be to think that we need to help ourselves. We can distract ourselves, but it doesn’t last.

God is keeping his promises

Their experience is despite the situation, God is showing them, through his word, that he is keeping his promises. This isn’t the end of the story. God does rescue his people from slavery in Egypt and that is good news. God was waiting for his perfect moment to display his might in all of the world. We know the end of the story if we’re Christians. Jesus has already secured victory and is bringing us safely home. We are given glimpses of grace along the way. God won’t always help in the way we want him to, but he helps in the way that’s best for us.

The midwives feared God. Despite the struggles of their lives, they trust God. They know he is God and Pharaoh is not. God was kind to the midwives and gave them families of their own, even though they lied. God blessed them as they made a choice to keep living for God.

Keep living for Jesus

We can choose to keep living for Jesus through the struggles of our lives. The truth of the Bible is that God is good, even when he doesn’t do what we think is best. He’s told us how the story ends. It might mean a hard life now, but one day everything will be as it should be. We run the Christian race longing for Jesus, knowing he will bring us safely home.

Unstuck – Psalm 62 – Sermon Notes

Jesus will take you through things in your life that will make you realise that without him, you have nothing. No one has a perfect life. Life is full of disappointments. Nothing that touches our life delivers what we hope it will, except for one person. In these moments, where do you turn to for hope?

Alone

In v1-2, the focus is on “alone.” We can give full mental assent to something and live as if it doesn’t matter. Our problem is as though a cloud covers the truth. We can recognise that we shouldn’t desire certain objects but continue to want them anyway. The things that we think and do obscure the reality. Jesus hasn’t moved. It’s us that have moved.

What is David facing (v3-4)?

He’s under attack by his supposed friends. They’re trying to topple him. David is stuck. He’s on the verge of collapse. The things that he’s facing become big and dominating. In verses 1 and 2 he’s saying what it’s like to be disconnected from something.
How do we get unstuck? Do we go through the old cycle of what we used to do? It sounds like David does this in v5-6. One thing changes from v1-2. What’s in his head needs to go into his soul. It’s as though he’s daring himself. He knows which horizon he wants to live under.

What do you do with a refuge (v7-8)?

You move in a direction and hide in it. Run into the one who is being spoken of. Being a Christian is about knowing the living God of the Bible. There is a personal invitation.

What does it mean to be a growing Christian (v9-10)?

What is it that David knows about himself? He talks about stuff and status. Don’t set your hope in your stuff as it can’t deliver your soul. If you’ve got enemies your status can keep you secure. Put your confidence in Jesus.

The Lord is our salvation, our rock, and our fortress.

Ascension – Luke 24:36-53 – Sermon Notes

The disciples think they’re seeing a ghost so Jesus asked them to touch him. He then showed them that he eats. All that had happened was planned (v44). Jesus opened their minds (v45). For us to understand the scriptures, it’s not about us being clever, it’s about our minds being opened by the Holy Spirit. It’s a good thing to pray (Psalm 119:18). We get a brief description of the Ascension. The disciples worshipped and obeyed him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

What about the Ascension?

Where is Jesus now? In heaven (Acts 1:11). He’s at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33). It’s the place where he has the approval and worship of heaven. In what form is Jesus there? Before he ascended to heaven, he had a scarred body. It’s impossible for us to describe what he looks like in heaven. All the fullness of the Godhead lives in bodily form (Colossians 2).

What’s happened as a result?

John gives us a look back in John 7:37. Jesus is teaching the Jews and he wants them to know who he is. He explained to the disciples that the Spirit would be with them and in them. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), they were speaking in native languages because the Spirit had been poured out.

What is Jesus doing in heaven?

1 Timothy 2:5-6 – as well as being our mediator, he’s also our advocate (1 John 2:1-2). An advocate doesn’t just speak for you, they’ll tell you what kind of case you have. We’re guilty sinners but our advocate pleads his righteousness which becomes ours. He’s our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). We have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. It’s a throne of grace and he is there for us. Jesus is preparing a place for us (John 14:13).

What does all this mean?

Through him, we have access to the Father by one Spirit. We get through to the throne. That’s what Jesus has achieved by his ascension. Let us set our hearts on heavenly things.

Resurrection – Matthew 27:57-28:15 – Sermon Notes

As it’s Easter Sunday, it was no surprise that the sermon was on the great news of Jesus’ resurrection.

In order to have a resurrection, there needs to be a death. Jesus really did die. Death by crucifixion was designed to be painful. Why was the tomb empty? The Jewish enemies and religious leaders didn’t challenge the apostles when they said Jesus had risen from the dead.

Why does it matter?

Jesus said he was going to rise from the dead and he did. There is no one else who has done that. He has risen, as he said. What Jesus says can be trusted. He speaks the truth because he is the truth. God so loved the world (John 3:16) even though we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and he shows his love for us (Romans 5:8). God’s judgement on our sin was dealt with. We all have a choice between wages (that we deserve) and free gift (that we don’t deserve).

The resurrection really does matter. When the apostle Paul was in Athens, he found lots of idols. He told them how God commands all people to repent as he’ll judge the world (Acts 17:30-31). One day Jesus will be the judge. He will judge with justice. We often say we want justice for our nation but what about God’s justice for us? It’s not just feeling sorry, it’s choosing to go his way.

Jesus is risen from the dead. He’s alive. What choice are you going to make?

Heading to the Cross – John 12:20-33 – Sermon Notes

What does heading to the cross look like?

Heading to the cross is hard

Jesus begins by telling the truth about himself. Without the death of a single seed there can be no harvest crop. The death of Jesus is God’s solution to man’s biggest problem. The Bible says we are dead in our sin. We can’t live in sin and live with God at the same time. Jesus says his soul is troubled (v27). He knew that his death was the only way to deal with the problem of human sin. He then makes this picture of himself also a picture of us (v25-26). Jesus calls us to hate our lives, deny ourselves, take up our cross. follow him, and serve him. It is hard to serve Jesus and others when you feel people are taking advantage of you.

Heading to the cross is glorious

If the seed dies, it will produce many other seeds (v24). If we hate our lives, we will keep our lives for eternity (v25). What are we willing to sacrifice for Jesus? If we follow, we will be with Jesus our King (v26a). If we serve, the Father will honour (v26b).

Heading to the cross is triumphant

It’s through Jesus’ death that God is glorified. Jesus says the last judgement will be dragged from the future into the present. At the cross God passes his punishment on sin and instead of placing it on us, he places it on Jesus. This is the time for judgement on the world and for when Satan will be driven out. Death will not hold Jesus. Satan won’t see it coming. The Christian will have the power within them to say no to sin. Jesus says it’s also the time he will draw all people to himself.

Like the Greeks, are you wanting to see Jesus? The death of Jesus on the cross was God announcing “here I am”. We see the hard road Jesus took to be the only sacrifice good enough to rescue us from the clutch of sin and death. We see God’s glory revealed and we can be sure of our future. God invites us to know life forever in his name. Will we allow the cross and the death of Christ to change our lives?

The Life of Jesus – Luke 4:14-30 – Sermon Notes

In this passage is Jesus’ mission statement as he begins his earthly ministry. Throughout the life of Jesus on earth, he went to the poor. He was anointed to preach good news to the poor. Jesus often spoke about spiritual blindness. All kinds of things can oppress people in their lives. Jesus came to release the oppressed. Why did Jesus stop reading the scroll before “the day of vengeance of our God”? John 3:17.

How should we look at Jesus?

By seeing what people said about him. Firstly we need to hear what his Father said when he was baptized and during the transfiguration. We also need to look at what Jesus himself said – Luke 2:48 & John 4:34.

Why did Jesus come? To seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Though Jesus knew that going to Jerusalem was going to mean his death, he was determined to go. Everything in his life was pointing towards it. When he went into Gethsemane, he’s contemplating the agony he’s going to face (Luke 22:42). It’s impossible for us to imagine. We don’t know what it’s like to be perfect as our hearts are full of sin.

What the crowds said

Mark 7:37 – people were overwhelmed with amazement. They recognised that he has done everything well. Luke 4:22 – all spoke well of him. When Jesus received the approval of the crowds, he wouldn’t entrust himself to them (John 2:23-25).

What his enemies said

At the time when guards were sent to arrest Jesus (John 7:40-48), they were asked why they didn’t bring him in. They said no one ever spoke the way Jesus did. Even his enemies had to recognise that. In John 8:42-47, Jesus challenges the Pharisees on belonging to the devil. He asked them if they could prove him guilty of sin. They didn’t. Jesus’ sinless perfection is vital to the whole gospel story. He didn’t come to call the people who thought they were righteous. He came to call sinners.

What his family said

On one occasion they said he was out of his mind (Mark 3:20-22).

What his disciples said

When Jesus was bringing some hard teaching, some people left. He asked his disciples if they wanted to leave too. They said he had the words of eternal life (Mark 6:66-69).

What do you say?

There’s no neutral ground. Either Jesus is who he says he is, or he isn’t. Jesus doesn’t just call us to believe (John 5:24), he calls us to follow (Matthew 4:18-20).

Showing Love – Luke 10:25-37 – Sermon Notes

What does it look like to love someone? Loving is the high cost of following Jesus. The whole of the Old Testament is summed up by love (v27). Jesus said the same thing lots of times. Love is hard and costly. If you’re a Christian what does it look like to love God in a particular situation, and what does it look like to love this person in this situation?

Love comes from God

1 John 4:7-8 says love comes from God. God is the source of every good thing. We can love others because we’re made in the image of God. God’s love is like a never ending fountain. It’s not only Christians who love. Whether you’re a Christian or not, you can love because God made you. If we want to love others, we need to stay under the fountain of God’s love.

Love is a choice

Jesus told this parable of the good Samaritan. How many people do we pass by without a second thought? The priest and Levite were sticking with their law. There might be all kinds of reasons for why they walked past. Do we do the same? Love is a choice. Are we going to do the more costly thing of loving that person or just walk by? We don’t often think love is a choice. The security of love means choosing to love. If we choose to love, emotions will follow. The opposite is also true. God calls us to make this choice.

Love is self-sacrificing

Human love is self-serving but heavenly love is self-sacrificing. Do we choose our friends or partners based on what they can do for us? 1 John 4:9-10 says God sent himself as a sacrifice so we can be united with him. Look at the cross of Jesus. If we are to be followers of Jesus we are to love in the way that he loved. We are loved because we are secure in the love of Jesus. Jesus has already loved us, so we can love others. It means putting others before ourselves. That’s what God calls us to. Our call is to keep choosing to sacrificially love others.

What might it look like to choose to love others in the situations we find ourselves in? There are countless ways in which we can practically love others, even if it’s costly.

What Should a Christian Wedding Look Like?

Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash

I’ve attended many Christian weddings over the years. All had several things in common, with their own unique touches. They provide a brilliant opportunity for God to be glorified and for the gospel to be proclaimed, particularly to friends and relatives who aren’t Christians. There is no definitive answer as to what a Christian wedding should look like, but there are several things that should be considered.

The Ceremony

Arguably the most important part of the day is the wedding ceremony. Aside from the usual formalities (vows and exchange of rings), the bride and groom are free to choose what to include.

Entrance / Exit Music

Traditionally, the bridesmaids walk down the aisle at the start of the ceremony one by one, followed by the bride and her father. This is a dramatic moment in which the bride is revealed to everyone present and is usually accompanied by music. Popular choices include Pachelbel’s Canon in D or Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah.

Instead of opting for a piece of classical music or popular song, why not consider a Christian song? When my sister got married, she walked down the aisle to Phil Wickham’s You’re Beautiful. While unexpected, this gave everyone something to think about and was a lovely choice.

It’s also worth considering something similar for the exit of the bridal party at the end of the ceremony.

Songs

All Christian weddings that I’ve attended have featured songs of worship or hymns during the ceremony. These are usually celebratory and upbeat – it is a happy occasion after all! It’s entirely up to you as a couple to decide on the songs, but those that proclaim the gospel and sing of what Jesus has done are best. From my experience, the most common ones are:

Once you’ve chosen the songs you’d like, it’s worth thinking about musicians. You could just opt for a singer with a guitar, or go for a fuller sound and add drums, bass, piano, or other instruments. It’s also worth checking out the sound system at the venue to see what’s viable.

Bible Readings

I would say that having one or two Bible readings is essential to a Christian wedding, as this will provide a focus for the address. When we think of wedding Bible readings, we tend to think of passages about love (such as “love is patient, love is kind” or “God is love”). While there is nothing wrong with them, you don’t have to choose these.

In fact, most of the Christian weddings I’ve attended have had alternative Bible readings. For Christians, marriage is a picture of the relationship Jesus has with his bride, the church. So for instance, you could choose a passage from Revelation 21 or 22. While a wedding is indeed a fantastic celebration, it is nothing compared to the events described in the book of Revelation.

I attended a wedding recently, during which Philippians 2:1-11 was read. In this passage, Paul talks about Christ’s example of humility, particularly by “counting others more significant than yourselves.”

Other possibilities include Romans 12:9-21 or Colossians 3:12-17, which talk about living as Christians and how we should glorify God in all that we do. Alternatively Matthew 6:19-21, in which Jesus commands us to not store up treasure on earth, reminds us that marriages on earth are temporary.

The Address

Whichever passage you choose, remember the potential for evangelism. The address, while primarily aimed at the bride and groom, is a fantastic chance for the gospel to be proclaimed. I would therefore advise against choosing a passage that is obscure or difficult to understand.

Hopefully you’ll know several people, either through your church or other connections, who can confidently deliver a clear, biblical address at your wedding. Once you’ve identified your preferred speaker, have a conversation with them well in advance and see if they’re willing to fulfil this role.

Prayers

All of the Christian weddings I’ve attended have included a slot for prayers during the ceremony. This gives you the chance to be prayed for as a married couple in front of the whole congregation. Consider choosing two close Christian friends or family members to do this for you.

Signing of the Register

If the venue permits, you may be able to sign the register during the ceremony (otherwise this is typically done at a registry office a few days beforehand). As this takes a few minutes, consider having a performance of a piece of music or a song that means something to you both.

Order of Service

When you have decided on the individual elements of your ceremony, you’ll need to decide on the order of service. The choice is entirely up to you, but here’s an example:

  • Entrance of the Bride
  • Welcome
  • Song 1
  • The Marriage
  • Songs 2 & 3
  • Bible Reading
  • The Address
  • Song 4
  • Signing of the Register (if applicable)
  • Prayers
  • Song 5
  • Final Blessing
  • Exit of the Bridal Party

Once you’re happy with the order, you can decide on a design for the printed copies that will be given to the guests on arrival. You could even include a Bible verse on the back. If the venue has a projector, it may be worth considering having song lyrics on a screen instead of printed (or you could have both). It’s also worth checking the lyrics thoroughly as some songs (such as Be Thou My Vision) have several versions.

The Reception

The wedding reception will also provide subtle opportunities to show your guests what your faith means to you.

Speeches

The wedding speeches (or toasts), where possible, could include references to your faith. For example, the groom could talk about how valuable the support of a church family is. At my sister’s wedding, my brother-in-law’s best man highlighted the importance of praying for the newlyweds.

Meal

Before serving the meal (or wedding breakfast), consider having someone pray. A brief prayer giving thanks for the food and for the newly married couple speaks of how all good things come from God.

First Dance

Your first dance as a married couple is an iconic moment. Guests are excited to find out which song you’ve chosen, and to see you dance together for the first time. From Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud to Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, from Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours to Lonestar’s Amazed, there are countless options.

How about considering a Christian song? My sister and brother-in-law had Jeremy Riddle’s Fall Afresh for their first dance. While unexpected, the song’s tempo was perfect for the occasion. Its thought-provoking lyrics also gave opportunities for non-Christians to ask, “why have they chosen this?” It was a simple yet profound way of sharing their faith.

Cake

The wedding cake will be the biggest and most expensive cake you’ll ever buy. Why not add something unique that speaks of your faith? Cake toppers come in all kinds of varieties. For example, check out this Christian cake topper, featuring the message “God gave me you.” It’ll put the icing on the cake (sorry).

Favours

Wedding favours are a way of thanking your guests for joining you on your special day. Instead of opting for traditional gifts, consider these personalised wedding magnets, engraved with your names, wedding date and Song of Solomon 3:4. Your guests can stick them on their fridges to remember your special day.

Gift List

Many of your guests will want to buy you a gift for your special day. By creating a gift list, you can let your friends and family know what you would like. This means that you get exactly what you want and guests don’t need to worry about what to buy.

By creating a free wedding registry or wedding list on Amazon, you can choose which items you’d like from the millions on offer. You’ll be given a link to share with your guests who can choose what to buy, and everything will be delivered to your door. You can highlight your favourite products and Amazon will keep track of who bought what, so you can say thank you. It’s extremely easy to set up as it’s all online and will save you lots of time.

Why not create an Amazon Wedding Registry (US) or Wedding List (UK) right now?

Further Reading

I’d highly recommend Tim Keller’s Meaning of Marriage. It’s a brilliant book not only for engaged or married couples, but for everyone, regardless of relationship status. In the book, Tim and his wife, Kathy, explore what marriage is, why God gave it to us, and what it means for all of us. The insights are biblical and thoughtful, and provide an honest perspective on the reality of marriage.

For me, one of the most helpful insights is that we never marry the right person. The idea that each of us has a soulmate and that we must spend our lives searching for “the one” is nonsense. No two people on the planet are 100% compatible. Therefore, marriage requires lots of hard work and love.

There’s also lots of helpful, practical advice on what makes a successful marriage, and a chapter that explores the theology of singleness. Why not consider reading it together before you get married? You can pick it up on Amazon.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. I wish you all the best as you plan your wedding!