....or more precisely, 'Keeping Yourself Unspotted from the World' (NKJV). It is rather easy to become unspotted (or polluted, as in the NIV) from the physical, cultural and secular world around us. As Christians, our actions and reactions should be based upon the greatest commandment: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength'. In this talk, Pete Bond uses James 1 vs 26-27. to provide us with tips for living an unspotted life. You know you're in for a challenging and practical sort of preach when the source text is James!
How we relate to those around us depends very much on our relationship with God. We need to ensure our heart is right before Him, because, as Jesus points out in Matthew 12, '...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks'. We continually, constantly, at all times need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Continuing our series on Practical Holiness, Ted Winter suggests four key areas of which we need to be aware so as to reflect the holiness of God within us. Do you want to be an energy giver (an encourager) or an energy sapper? Listen on....
One of the Israelites' earliest edicts from the Lord was to 'be Holy as I am Holy'. Peter thought this so important that he referred to it within his epistle (1 Peter 1:16). We cannot grow in holiness unless we also abide by this instruction, in other words, we must see the world as God sees it. When Christians do so, they can make a huge difference - consider John Wesley, William Wilberforce, Mother Theresa, to name but three. We too can make a difference, in the way we live our lives, by the choices we make. Andy Sparkes gives us a few tips on where to start, together with a biblical perspective.
As we've already seen, an important element of holiness is 'being set apart' 'being different'. We also know that God called and chose us, not the other way around. How we behave as Christians is closely linked to how we perceive God - is he to us a strict judge, or a benign, loving heavenly father? We are Holy because God says we are. We work to live out (or perfect) that holiness; God requires us to be serious about our walk with Him. Roger Snowdon explains how, starting with repentance and avoiding complacency, we might then achieve holiness in our lives.
We are very different to God, our creator. For starters, the Bible tells us that He doesn't need us - or anything in creation - He is absolutely independent and self-sufficient. And then there's His holiness, the extent and awesomeness of which our human minds just cannot comprehend. We can, however, acknowledge God's holiness and glory by aspiring to be holy, by demonstrating something of the glory of our Heavenly Father. Steve Gibbons - here speaking with a deep, basal voice, yes it is him! - explains how we should live our lives to reflect some of God's holiness to those around us.
When we look closely at the descriptions of the early tabernacle in Exodus, we see that it is a copy of what happens in Heaven. How do we know? Because Paul's letter to the Hebrews contains the key to unlock our understanding. Continuing our series looking at Practical Holiness, Trevor Bond helps us to recognise the parallels between the set-up of the original tabernacle and that which Jesus has done for us. He also then invites us to 'go through' the process - this time with the understanding of what Jesus' sacrifice means to us.
This week we're starting a new series on holiness - practical holiness. In Ephesians 4 vs 22-24, Paul reminds us that 'you were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.' But how might we do this in practice? Steve Gibbons, in an introduction to the series, provides a few pointers to help us start thinking about it...
Martin Powell takes on the challenge of talking about the work of Jesus on the cross! The unique moment in history when the Son of God, divinity in human form, was cruelly executed in the barbarous act of crucifixion. The victory of that moment was unexpected and sent ripples through all of eternity.
It's not often that we hear a message on tithing - our last was in January 2015 - so it was about time to get this one! Although, Pete's timing is terrible as we're all saving for the oncoming financial onslaught that is Christmas.
Pete takes a no-holds-barred look at the sticky issue of finance and giving in the church. Listen on with an open mind and a thankful heart!
Andy explores what it means for God to forgive us. How can we live in the forgiveness that He gives? Why does He forgive us? What does this mean for us in our lives? It is such an inexplicable privilege to be forgiven by the creator of all things. We can never fully understand why He chooses to forgive us, but we can choose to accept it!
Roger helps us reevaluate what it means to live by faith. As part of our back to basics series we are looking at aspects of our life and faith and asking crucial questions like "Am I looking for the fireworks of faith, or longing for the steady lightbulb?".
Recognising a fruit plant without seeing the fruit can be difficult. "Each tree is recognised by its own fruit". There are 9 aspects of one fruit - the evidence of the outworking of God's Spirit, in our lives.
In Christ I am a New Creation. The old has gone. The New has come.
We live in a period of time that exists in the promise of the completed works of Jesus, and has seen the beginning of those things. We are made new creations. We are still being made new. One day it will be finished. It was done. It is being done. It will be done.
Andy Sparkes unravels what it means to be a New Creation and what it should mean to us in the here and now
It's been our pleasure this weekend to host David and Liz Campbell and family, missionaries whose work we support as a church. Working primarily with disadvantaged and vulnerable young people, the Campbells have spent many years with Fusion Jamaica, making a positive difference for Jesus in several different neighbourhoods. David speaks here about the challenges we face being in the now, but not yet, Kingdom of God, using references from Jesus' ministry and examples from his own experiences to explain how we might become equal to the tasks God calls us to.
Vision has been defined as 'the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom'. I like that. GCC's vision was agreed not just with a great deal of imagination (aspiration) and wisdom (prayerfully and with the Holy Spirit's guidance) BUT also with the knowledge that there is responsibility for each one of us, both individually and as part of the church. It is vital we recognise that, should we ever feel we're doing okay just as we are, then that's when we're in great danger of losing sight of our vision, of ceasing to be a healthy and growing church. So we all have our part to play. Pete Bond teaches us how we can remain a church where people can meet Jesus, know Jesus and make Him known.
We start back at Gillingham Community Church from our summer break with a new series of Sunday morning talks that are designed to take us 'Back to Basics'. Over the next few months, we'll be considering the basic tenets of our faith and looking at how we might practically apply them. And what better place to start than Hope? Steve Gibbons teaches us primarily from Hebrews 6 about why we need a firm anchor for our faith and how we can keep our hope in Jesus alive.
Probably every Christian will have at some point referred to the apostle who demanded tangible proof of Jesus' resurrection as 'Doubting Thomas'. Yet surely Thomas was merely expressing in words the thoughts that most of us would have had in his position? Wasn't he actually being tremendously courageous in asking those difficult questions that others baulked at? Steve Gibbons teaches us that Thomas is not only misunderstood but that by digging deeper into the New Testament we will discover him to be a faithful, believing disciple who was prepared to ask awkward questions to overcome some of the uncertainties he experienced. Not sure about Thomas being an honorary scouser though....maybe I like him need to ask some difficult questions?!
Nicodemus was a New Testament intellectual, both a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. An older man, he was clearly someone with a thorough, in-depth knowledge of Jewish law and religious practise. And yet, from his meeting with Jesus as told in John 3, he was open to and desired to know more about the Son of God. Surely every Christian knows that famous, life-changing verse, John 3:16 - 'For 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' - but none of us except Nicodemus has actually heard it spoken directly by Jesus! Andy Sparkes sets the context for Jesus' famous meeting with Nicodemus, explaining why he was the first establishment figure to recognise and then seek the divine Jesus, and describes how we can learn much from this Pharisee's attitude.
We all love to be encouraged, don't we? So how wonderful it must be to be regarded as an 'encourager', a positive and uplifting person. Barnabas - Paul's right-hand man - was just such a person, so much so that he was known by his nickname 'Son of Encouragement', in other words, he was the very embodiment of encouragement. As Martin Powell emphasises in this talk, our church will only grow if we continue meeting together and encouraging one another (as Paul instructs in several of his letters); so there's a challenge - who can you encourage today?
It doesn't need me to say how difficult it can be these days to stand up for that which you believe, to go against the flow in a society that seems determined to go its own way, to do its own thing, exactly how it pleases. But that's not just in our times, because the Old Testament is full of different characters who knew what was right and then stood fast to achieve their God-given beliefs. One such man of integrity was Caleb who - along with Joshua - remained resolute in the face of fear and complacency demonstrated by the wandering Israelites as they stood on the cusp of entering the land promised to them. Ted Winter tells us how Caleb's example (Numbers 13 & 14) can speak to us today, naming five particular qualities we all should exhibit as Christians.
Every one of us at some time will complain to ourselves (or others!) that real life regularly gets in the way of our walk with God. But you know, it doesn't have to be that way because often what we think of as being obstructive is actually the right thing to do in the circumstances. Not sure how this can be? Then listen to this talk by Roger Snowdon, here using the example of Martha to show how we can interact with Jesus and do His will - even in the mundanity of our everyday lives.
If you want a good example of unswerving loyalty, persistence and service in the Old Testament then look no further than that offered by Benaiah to his king. Throughout David's reign, Benaiah remained steadfastly loyal, a quality the king clearly recognised when he put him in charge of his bodyguards. Even after David's death, Benaiah's loyalty continued to be rewarded when Solomon ascended the throne and made him commander of all the army. There's so much we can learn from this example of loyalty and persistence; here Steve Gibbons describes the many traits attributed to and evidenced by this little known titan of Israel.
Ephron the who, I hear you ask? Well, this week we're starting a new series of talks on some of the Biblical characters who - either wittingly or unwittingly - were instrumental in helping to build the Kingdom of God. Some of us might well think that the more obscure people named within the Bible were just that - obscure people; but if that's the case, why are they named? Were their actions more important than we give them credit? Beginning with Ephron the Hittite, Pete Bond explains exactly how he can teach us to be "Recognising and Blessing the Work of God".
The Bible is very clear on one aspect of Christian life - we are not designed to be a passenger. We all have our part to play. God gave each one of us different talents, gifts or passions and it's up to us to use them how he intends. If everyone contributes, then the whole church benefits (see 1 Corinthians 12). We're all different for a reason! Using 1 Peter 2 as the foundation for his talk, Andy Sparkes tells us why, if we want our church to be seen as being part of the body of Christ, we all need to contribute as the Living Stones God made us to be.
The second recording is of words and encouragement given by members of GCC following the Sunday talk.
We humans all possess the basic need to belong to something; belonging to a church generally fulfils that need in a Christian. But what is it that attracts us to a particular church? Is it the people, place or activities? How can we 'make' a church where everyone feels valued, welcomed and loved? Only when Jesus is at the centre of all we do - He who met with and cared about all sorts of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. Ted Winter tells us how we can be a church where everyone feels they belong. NB: Audio quality is not up to usual standard but please bear with the talk.
We believe that Gillingham Community Church is a place where people can feel both welcome and safe, a place where no-one is judged and everyone is accepted. But surely we are all damaged people, and as God's ways are not our ways, who makes this possible? Only Jesus, our refuge, our rock - it's on Him alone we must rely. There are many scriptural verses promoting Jesus as our safe place and in this talk Steve Gibbons runs through several of them to help explain why it is necessary for GCC to be a safe place so that we might all Belong, Believe and Be changed.