How to Build Heaven on Earth – Exodus 25-26 – Sermon Notes

God’s people freely offer God’s stuff back to him (25:1-7). The gifts that the people gave to build the tabernacle and its contents were not commanded by God as a matter of law. They were not a condition of being one of God’s people. The things that the Lord was asking for in order for the tabernacle to be built were given to the people by the Lord in the first place. It’s easy to forget that all we have is a gift from him. The appeal of the scriptures is to give generously to the ministry of the church in particular.

When God’s people give, God…

Makes a place where he is present (25:10-22)

The advantage of this arrangement is entirely on the side of the Israelites because the Ark of the Covenant means that God can come and dwell amongst his people.

Shares food with his people (25:23-30)

For God’s people to be invited not only to have his presence in his own tent dwelling amongst them but to join with him in a meal was an amazing and remarkable sign of his favour, grave and desire for intimacy with them.

Brings back paradise (25:31-26:37)

Again and again, God gives signs and symbols that demonstrate that he is in the business of not just giving his people eternal life but of giving them a perfect, real, physical place in which to enjoy that life. The message of the tabernacle is quite clear; God is undertaking a great restoration project. Amongst his people, he is remaking, recreating a perfect sanctuary. Using the freely given gifts of the Israelites, God built a place where he was present, whether he could enjoy fellowship with his people and which recreated the perfect garden of creation.

In the local church, God makes a place where he is present. There is something about the people of God bringing their gifts together in a local church that manifests the presence of God. Through the work of Jesus, the church, our church, is now a picture of openness.

God lives with us, shares fellowship with us and even begins to restore his perfect creation amongst us. Let’s be part of that.

Revelation – John 1:18 – Sermon Notes

This series on John 1:1-18 could be described as the most extravagant invitation in the history of the earth. For our of love, God himself became flesh and died on a cross so that we might become part of his family.

To know Jesus is to know God

We come to Jesus empty handed offering nothing but Jesus comes to us with his hands full and of the many blessings he gives to us, the one he is most excited about is us being in relationship with his Father. The moment you trust in Christ you can be certain that you are carried to the centre of the Father’s heart.

What is Jesus like? Most clearly we saw his love on the cross. Jesus’ compassion led to him to take on our sin and so giving up the most precious thing he had – the hand of his Father so that we could have it. If you want to know how much God the Father loves his children, look no further than how Christ loves us.

To keep your eyes on Christ is key to living for God

The Son of God becoming a man and entering the pages of human history means that the Christian investment in the promise of heaven, and renewed minds and bodies enjoying God and his creation as we were designed, is worth it.

You need to gaze on Christ as often and deeply as you can. We do not trust in rumours but because we know Christ we are not fools to invest the maximum of ourselves in declaring the wonder of God to the world.

Incarnation – John 1:14-17 – Sermon Notes

The God who takes us by the hand

The tension between wanting to know God but he’s too perfect was first felt by the Israelites led by Moses. They had created the tabernacle which was the physical place where Moses could talk to God. How long could this last? The Israelites were distrusting and angry. They made a statue of a calf and made it their new god. God was furious. He gave them what they wanted. Moses pleaded that God would stay and give them another chance. God longs to be close but the obstacle is always our sin. It matters to know that God isn’t just existing somewhere in the universe but is with us now.

Moses asks God if he can actually see him. The passing by of God is the OT’s ‘wow moment’. God revealing his glory to us is a reality for us today. The word ‘dwelt’ found its root in ‘tabernacle’. It’s a reference to when God was leading the Israelites through the desert. He’s doing it again. He’s taking people by the hand. Better than Moses, the glory of God was seen face to face as John walked, talked, spent time with Jesus. John was there when god became a man. He saw the closeness of God as he was a disciple of Jesus. Our hope is not a dream. This God will come close if we accept the invitation. We don’t have to go into the darkness alone. God will take us through the next year, through the rest of our lives, to the face of God the Father.

The God who is not fair

God, back in Exodus, kindly gave the Israelites the law. It showed where people had failed to meet his standards. The law gave them a way for them to not get what they deserved. They were allowed to bring a sacrifice. The law was a grace from God. It enabled an unholy people to be with God because they didn’t get what they deserved. The Son of God coming as a man means we have a greater gift. To trust the death of Jesus is to have confidence that you will never be treated as you deserve. You will always be treated infinitely better than you should be. At the cross, Jesus paid it all. His death on the cross is God’s justice enacted. We cannot do this year by ourselves. God’s grace is sufficient for our needs.

The True Light – John 1:9-13 – Sermon Notes

There’s a strange curiosity in our culture of returning to Jesus again and again. The representations of Jesus are often negative. We can’t seem to let Jesus go. Why is it that Jesus still has this power to both repel people and attract them?

The true light is seen but the world continues to look away

It’s as if our darkened souls turn away from him. We try to turn down the light. If we can make the light seem weak, we can ignore it. Everyone who sees Jesus glimpses something true about God and something true about ourselves. There’s a tone of sadness about the line, ‘the world did not recognise him’. We may be selectively blind but God isn’t. Our culture can’t let him go. We see but we look away. We exchange the idea of a relationship with God for a debt we can never pay back.

The true light invites you to join God’s family

We discover a promise that is so compelling that we struggle to get our heads around it. God calls you to be spiritually reborn. He won’t allow you to drown in your own darkness. He is a perfectly thorough and a perfectly loving parent. When John describes the rejection, it’s a reference to Jesus on the cross.

God sent his son Jesus Christ into the darkness of our world to find us and bring us home. He sent his son into the darkness so that we can be forgiven and made family.

The Light – John 1:6-8 – Sermon Notes

John is a wanderer. Jesus describes him as the greatest of all the prophets. We learn two things about God through his messenger John the Baptist.

If you’re looking for hope, look to God

Despite everything you know about the darkness of the world we hold on to that Yuletide belief. It’s the belief that ‘everyone is basically good but bad stuff happens to us that makes us bad’. Each one of us is a darkness creator. There is no inner goodness that is buried within the heart.

The light we need is a light that comes from outside of us. John wants us to know that this true light is waiting for you to accept him. We get to enjoy the true light of the world by accepting a relationship with Jesus. It transforms all of our other relationships. We can bring our burdens and anxieties to him so that in time they can be healed by the one who truly understands us.

If you want to see God, look at the messenger

God has always used people to reveal himself to others. If you want to see what God is like look at the person next to you. When you are compassionate in your treatment of others you are being God-like. None of us were there 2,000 years ago. The only evidence we have of this being true are the eyewitness accounts in the Bible and testimonies of Christians today. The message of this passage is that the testimony of a normal guy is enough. You can trust this invitation.

Our rejection of God distorts us. We’re all signposts designed to point to God but our rejection of him defaces us. If you find someone who has accepted the invitation to follow Jesus then you have found a signpost who is being untwisted to point in the right direction. As a signpost it’s not about you.

The Church that Shows the Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 – Sermon Notes

In the church leadership, people think different things about spiritual gifts. We need to learn to disagree and love each other at the same time. Paul doesn’t say what he means by a ‘message of knowledge’.

The church is described as Jesus’ wife. If you love Jesus, you love the people he died for. The gift of tongues seemed significant to the Corinthians.

The Spirit acts on us to bring Jesus’ Lordship (v1-3)

Paul says everyone can know about this. He says we were totally ignorant. They had a history of pagan worship that seemed real. The Spirit’s work can be seen in what people say and do if they are proclaiming that Jesus is Lord. That is incompatible with the self focus of the Corinthians. If we’re interested in looking after ourselves, it isn’t spiritual. It’s about our attitude to Jesus.

The Spirit acts in the church to bring variety (v4-11)

Anything being done with Jesus being proclaimed is the Spirit working. Paul gives a list of different types of gifts that might be used. We don’t know exactly what the messages of knowledge and wisdom actually are. The point is the repeated use of variety through one Spirit. It doesn’t matter what we can do, it’s that we can do something.

How does it apply to us as a church?

It’s the same thing as every week – trust in Jesus. Can we say and mean that Jesus is Lord?

Be inspired by the church. It’s amazing because of Jesus. Everybody who knows Jesus is Lord has his Spirit and everyone has something to give. All united but totally different. No one can be devalued if they appear to not pull their weight.

The corresponding negative. If we think that we have a gift that comes from an ability that we would’ve had regardless of whether we’re Christians or not, that isn’t the Spirit as we’re trying to promote ourselves.

The Winner Takes It All – Exodus 15:1-27 – Sermon Notes

God is a soldier – praise him for your security (v1-21)

Moses composed this song that was an instant hit. Cover versions released throughout the bible. The song celebrates the great battle won by the Lord as a warrior.

God is a patient soldier. People see suffering and ask why doesn’t God do something and when he does, people say he is vile. God takes on those who seek to destroy the defenceless. He exalts himself by saving others. God could demand honour by his creative power but he also exalts himself by doing good and rescuing people. The option to be rescued by God was there for everyone. Revelation 15 – song of Moses.

God is a doctor – trust him for your health (v22-27)

The Israelites treat Moses badly. Instead of judgment God gives them sweet water to quench their thirst. He also gives them a warning in that they need to listen to what he says. Each one of us is an enemy of God the soldier. God showed them that his intentions were kind and good. God heals everyone who recognises the sickness of their sin. He cures us by taking the disease on himself. He heals anyone who comes to him. He just asks for our trust.

We need the healing and forgiveness that only God can offer.

Earth Song – Psalm 96 – Sermon Notes

This psalm was probably written for a celebration of who the God of Israel is after a time of hardship.

The whole earth should sing God’s praise

First verse is a pale reflection of what true praise should be. In contrast to some of the other psalms, the writer isn’t just dealing with God’s relationship with his people, it is the whole world that is called to join with the song of worship.

There is a proclamation of his salvation (v2). We’ve got a personal understanding of what his salvation really means for us. We know that his plan for saving all nations is through the gift of his son. The final call (v3) is to declare his glory among the nations.

We praise the Lord because he deserves it

We still find ourselves being drawn back to idols. We should therefore remember who God is, declared as the creator of the universe. A statement of how amazing our God is.

There’s an echo of the first part (v7-9) but we’re also called to ascribe to the Lord, to credit him with what belongs to him. The fear of God is an acknowledgement of his true power.

We should praise the Lord because he is coming back

Our King is coming again to judge his world. The psalmist follows his statement of God’s judgment with a command for joy and rejoicing (v11-13).

We should be declaring his glory to all nations as we have the promise that he is coming back to judge the world, he is coming to renew his creation to the way he always intended it to be.

Can It Be True? – Malachi 1:1-5 – Sermon Notes

‘Really? When was that?’

They’re asking God when has he loved us. They want to be reminded of the point of serving him. Life seems to be harder this way. This was a collective problem. It all started when they muttered with one another. These people still looked spiritual. They still prayed and went to the temple but settled without really going anywhere. They denied being radically changed. There’s quite a lot of this collective problem in the church today. We wind each other up into being unenthusiastic. God has answers.

‘Jacob I have friended, Esau I have enemied’

God shocks them with this phrase. Jacob was the nastier brother. God has chosen to befriend him. God treats some people differently. He talks about his special care or love that he has for his people. That’s given by his kindness and not by what we’ve done. It is true that we don’t get to do whatever we like but Malachi is saying ‘wake up’.

We often want what they have.

A common Christian illness. God is saying why fill your life with stuff that’s not going to last. Their answer is that it’s fun. It’s foolish to chase the things other people chase. Apple products etc.

Not just their God

Jesus is Lord of everything in the world. It will be abundantly clear. The only reaction when Jesus clears all the stuff away will be ‘what a fool I was’. We have the amazing privilege of being a friend of God and not an enemy. The things we chase won’t last. Jesus rules over everything.

The Church that Shows Jesus – 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 – Sermon Notes

Paul gives us a way out of individualism into this community that he describes. No one is allowed to be excluded as a result of what we don’t know or what we can’t do. There are people who think they’re superior or inferior.

The body is Jesus (v12-13)

Paul knew this from his experience. We are all one in him.

The inferior – ‘You’re in whether you like it or not’ (v14-20)

A common feeling in church life is that you want to be with people who are like you. Church is about diversity. We have to realise that it’s the sinful nature that says we want people like us around us. It’s proof that the spirit is working if there’s diversity. Everyone is different on purpose. It’s because we’re different that we do belong. God has made us this way for a reason. The glorious truth is that we’re not the same as everyone else.

The superior – ‘You have forgotten the gospel’ (v21-26)

Knowledge was a problem in Corinth. Some knew more than others. Ability was also an issue. There’s a risk that we’ll begin to treat people unkindly if we think we’re better than them. The point of having parts that seem weak is so that they can be cared for. Paul says weakness is good.

God has put the body together to model the great truth of the gospel. Paul finishes the passage by listing gifts. We cannot all do the same but because Jesus is in all of us, we can still be as one.