The way a Jewish wedding was done at the time of Jesus is very different to most weddings we've been at. The wedding celebrations could last up to a week. The responsibility for organising everything lay with the groom - so every wedding was a bit like ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’. Also, to run out of wine was very embarrassing for the groom, almost unforgivable. It may even have opened him to a potential lawsuit from the relatives of the bride - not a good start to married life! So the groom in the story of the Wedding at Cana found himself potentially very embarrassing situation before Jesus stepped in and saved him from shame.
Reading: John 2:1-12
Authentic Christianity (12): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 4:1-6
There is a need for critical examination in the Christian life. We are not being cynical when we do not believe every spirit, we are being obedient. It is good, healthy and obedient to test spirits & ideas, to ask questions & use our minds in the light of Biblical truth. We should not just go along with everything but test everything so we can discern when God is at work. For not everything supernatural is Divine. John basically tells us to test the spirits & stick with the Apostles.
Authentic Christianity (11): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 3:19-24
The human heart is a funny thing. It can be moved by empathy or envy. It can be fragile, changeable & complex. With this in mind can statements like “always trust your heart” really be considered good advice? The Bible instead teaches us that our heart needs both reasurance & leadership! John teaches us how our heart can find both of these by trusting in the God who is greater than our heart -- trusting in his commandments, trusting in the name of his Son & trusting in the abiding presense of his Spirit.
This week we were delighted to welcome Pastor Cathal Duffy from Castlebar Christian Fellowship to minister the Word. He's currently studying & teaching through the Old Testament book of Hosea. Cathal preached on chapter 3 of the book at Amazing Grace, bringing a powerful message on God's love for his people. Unfortunately the message wasn't recorded, but you can listen to THIS RECORDING from the Castlebar website where you can also follow the whole SERIES.
Reading: Hosea 3
Authentic Christianity (10): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 3:11-18
In order to help us understand our call to love one another as Christians the apostle John contrasts the way of Cain with the way of Christ. John loves his contrasts – darkness/light, denying sin/confessing sin, antichrists/Christ, children of the devil/children of God etc & now it's loving one’s brother or hating him. To bring this home he contrasts Cain with Christ. His basic point being that hatred for brothers & sisters in Christ cannot coexist with the eternal kind of life which produces Christlike love for one another.
Authentic Christianity (9): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 2:28-3:10
This challenging section of John's letter does not open with the words “try harder” or “live better” but with the words “abide in him.” In fact this is the only thing we're actually told to do in this section, everything else is descriptive. This is so important to see, for as challenging as the following verses are it is clear at each point that John want us to see that Christ is the great worker & not us. It is hope in Christ that makes us holy, it is Christ that changes our habits & It is new birth into him that makes us righteous. All which can be summed up under the words "abide in him" for these verses show us the fruit of truly abiding in Christ.
Authentic Christianity (8): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 2:18-27
The Apostle John speaks of both the antichrist & antichrists in his letter. The word antichrist basically means opposed to, rival to or counterfeit to Christ. One Study Bible (NIV ZSB) comments; “The coming of an antichrist figure was part of early Christian teaching. It distinguished between the great antichrist figure that would appear near the end of the age & lesser antichrist figures whose influence was already being felt.” John's concern here is the present effect of "many antichrists" on believers. Therefore he identifies 3 characteristics of antichrists & points believers to two safeguards to ensure they abide in the true Christ.
In this message we learn vital gospel truth from the story of Peter's denial. In the wider story we find hope for all failures. For not only do we learn of Peter's epic fail but also that Jesus forseen & forgave his failure. We are challenged to see ourselves in Peter - we have all like him failed. Yet we also like Peter are offered forgiveness so that the story of our life can be summed up not under the word 'failure' but 'forgiven'!
Reading: Matthew 26:69-75
When everything in life goes wrong does it mean we have lost favour with God or that he has forsaken or forgotten us? The central truth of Psalm 42 & 43 (originally one song) gives a resounding NO & instead declares that even on the worst day of life God is still orchestrating his steadfast love for us! He is not only the LORD of our good days & good times but he is the God of our whole life! This is why his people can have chorus of living hope ringing in our hearts in the midst of all inward & outward trials of life.
Reading: Psalm 42-43
Reading: Nehemiah 3
With all the presents we unwrap on Christmas Day the mystery behind the wrapping paper is revealed in seconds, the paper comes off & the surprise is over. However when God's greatest gift is truly received the wonder never wears off, for there is always more to unwrap, more to comprehend, more to surprise the heart. God's greatest gift is the surprise that never loses its wonder. For this reason after all other gifts are unwrapped, & all the hype dies down & we’re back in the daily grind of life, we can still carry in our hearts the lasting wonder of Christmas!
Reading: John 3:16
It's clear from Mary's song she treasured the written word of God & it's equally clear from the wider Christmas story how deeply she treasured Jesus the Word who became flesh! When the shepherds came to visit Jesus they shared what the angels had told them about him. It says in Luke 2:19 “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She treasured everything that was said about Jesus & in the same way we ought to treasure everythig the Bible tells us about Jesus! This is how true Christian devostion grows. While Mary is an example of true devotion to God she is not the hero of the story. The hero is the One who lived within her, the One she treasured, the One she always pointed to!
Reading: Luke 1:46-55; 2:19
The story of Christmas is the a story about how God took on human flesh & moved into our world in the historal Person of Jesus Christ. It is the story of the Incarnation, the story of Immanuel, God with us. However the story of God With Us is not only a story about a past event is also a story we have to look forward to & one which can also be our present story. Jesus did not come in the flesh only to leave us as orphans again, no he came to ensure that the story of Immanuel, God With Us became our always & forever story.
Authentic Christianity (7): Sermons on the New Testament letter of 1 John.
Reading: 1 John 2:15-17
The Christian is not to be shaped by the world they are sent into, but by the word they are sent with! We need to deeply understand that the whole system of this world is characterised by the vision & values of the evil one. This is why John says; "If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” For we cannot do the will of God while living by the value system of this world anymore than we can simultaneously walk in two opposite directions. It is only those who truly love the Father that beat this worlds system.
This message looks at the Apostle Paul's prayer in Ephesians chapter 1 & encourages us to realise & reflect on all we already have in Christ. In his prayer Paul prays that believers would have deep spiritual understanding of the hope they have been called to, of the riches of their glorious inheritance & of the immeasurable greatness of Christ's power which backs the believer no matter what they have to face.
Reading: Ephesians 1:1-23
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