The sovereignty of God

Or: God, our ultimate superhero

This is a sermon I preached at St Aldhelm’s Doulting, focusing on James 4:11-17.

Superheroes are everywhere in today’s culture. In some ways we’re a bit like them, in that we often judge each other, comparing our own skills and achievements against other people. James points out that this is contrary to God’s will. We judge God too, every time we go our own way instead of his.

James teaches us that the solution to our problem of pride is humility. We need to humbly submit to each other, and to God.

Sermon: Living faithfully

This is a sermon I preached at St Peter & St Paul Shepton Mallet, looking at James 2:14-26.

James writes to young Christians in churches across the Middle East, telling them that faith without works is dead. At first glance, that seems contrary to Paul’s teaching, so we need to take a closer look at what James is saying.

Listen to this recording to learn more! And do leave your comments below.

Sermon: Jesus, King of sinners

In my latest sermon, preached on 22 January 2017 at St Aldhelm’s Doulting, we look at Mark 1:40 – 2:17. We read about the leper Jesus healed, the paralysed man who was lowered through the roof, and the calling of Levi.

Summary

Donald Trump has been inaugurated as President of the US, and the UK is mid-Brexit, leaving many wondering whether this is a kingdom they want to be part of. Jesus’s kingdom is different, though – it’s full of sinners like you and me. No sin can exclude you. But Jesus also wants us to change, to become more like him. Ultimately, our eternal life must take priority over our earthly life – that’s not to say our earthly life is unimportant, but rather that it’s a matter of priorities. Lord, your kingdom come.

Also, apologies that the audio goes rather quiet for a bit towards the beginning, I had to step away from the mic to hand things to some kids!

Genesis 4: anger and justice

This is a sermon I preached at St Aldhelm’s Doulting, looking at Genesis 4.

One of the consequences of sin is the need for justice, to stand up for what is right and to correct what is wrong. When Cain’s offering is rejected, his reaction is to take out the competition – he kills his brother, Abel. But God’s justice is not administered through anger; what we see is justice tempered with grace. The punishment is still due, but God promises to protect Cain, because he still loves him.

Find out more by listening to the audio above.

Genesis 1: Nothing is too big for God

Here is a short sermon I preached at St Peter & St Paul Shepton Mallet, looking at Genesis 1:1-2:3.

Genesis 1 isn’t a science textbook, it’s not a list of facts, it’s a story to teach us something.  Moses wanted to remind the Israelites that God was powerful, and that he had a plan that includes each of us.

Today we learn two things from Genesis 1: firstly, that nothing is too big for God, so we should step out in faith because God can be trusted; secondly, that God’s plan sometimes means we have to curb our enthusiasm.

Listen to the audio above to hear the whole sermon.

Psalm 138: God’s faithfulness

This is a sermon I preached at St Peter & St Paul Shepton Mallet on Psalm 138.

David is a successful and powerful king, but even he was fearful sometimes and needed to trust in God’s faithfulness to get him through.

God keeps his promises, such as his promise to Abraham that he would be a “great nation”.  And because God is faithful, we can trust in him.

Of course, reading other people’s stories is great, but it’s also important that we can identify our own experiences of God’s faithfulness to us.  Sometimes it’s not easy to find them though, especially when the going is rough.  God won’t necessarily stop the trouble from happening, but he does promise to be with us, and that gives us hope, because God is faithful.

Listen to the whole sermon above.

Good Friday reflection

This is a reflection prepared for a Palm Sunday service (which happened to include the Liturgy of the Passion as well) at St Bartholomew’s Church, Cranmore.  It followed the reading of the Passion, as told by Mark.

 

You’re standing outside the tomb.  The evening has come.  The stone lies against the entrance, sealing him off from the world.  It is finished.

Grief fills your mind, as you recall in pain what you have seen and heard.  Jesus, your teacher, ridiculed and mocked.  Jesus, your leader, led like a lamb to the slaughter.  Jesus, your friend, heaped with insults, beaten, crucified.  Your heart breaks.

No surprise then that the floodgates open, and memories of other pain creeps unwanted into your mind.  Friends and family lost.  Relationships torn apart.  Belongings taken away.  Times when you too have been beaten, insulted, humiliated, exposed, abused, forgotten.  Your heart breaks.

But then, God’s heart breaks too.  The Father watched as his Son came helpless into the world, cold and naked and in need.  The Father watched as his Son was opposed by those who should have known better.  The Father watched as authorities wielded their power to twist an outcome.  The Father watched as his Son was arrested in the garden.  The Father watched as Jesus was accused of blasphemy.  The Father watched as his Son was beaten and mocked.  The Father watched as his Son was dragged through the streets with crowds jeering and pointing.  The Father watched as the nails drove through his skin.  The Father watched as Jesus died.  And did nothing to stop it.  His heart broke as he watched, knowing that it had to be done.

I wonder… what hurt most?  Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, because something else hurt more.  Jesus allowed himself to be mocked and beaten, because something else hurt more.  Jesus allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and had his very life taken from him, because something else hurt more.  As he hung on that cross, he looked out at the world, and saw… you.  He saw who you are.  He saw the mountain of sin that exists between you and the Father.  He saw that you would never attain eternal life by yourself.  He saw that unless something was done you would be permanently separated from him.  That was the pain that God could not live with.  That was the pain that made Jesus’ death worth suffering.  “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.  God loves you that much.  Jesus would rather go through all that than lose you.

So as you stand in front of that tomb, with the cold breeze beginning to chill your skin, with the feelings of pain and loss still like an open wound, with the bittersweet Palm Sunday still a poignant memory, with the promised resurrection still some way off, when all seems lost, remember this – God loves you.  That’s what it was all for.  So let’s bow before him, in submission, and adoration, and let’s love him too.