Get the Fear

This morning we begin a 4 week series looking at the book of Jonah – a familiar story that has much to teach us about the sovereignty, and justice and mercy of God.  Jonah 1.

By way of background we need to be aware that Jonah ministered between 800-750BC during a time of relative peace for the northern kingdom of Israel. However a major threat from the north was posed by Assyria, whose intentions for domination of the region were obvious.

Jonah was a contemporary of Elisha, Amos and Hosea. Earlier in his career he had been used by God to bring good news to Israel, in particular he encouraged King Jeroboam to restore Israel’s borders to their former glory (2 Kings 14:25). I’m sure this positive prophet became popular in the royal court and no doubt enjoyed the good favour of the people as well.

However no sooner had Israel achieved the promised security than she began to gloat over her success and became exceedingly complacent about her favoured status with God (Amos 6:1). Religion became focused upon the Day of the Lord (Am 5:18-20) in which other nations would be engulfed in darkness while Israel basked in God’s light.

In any age what does God require of us? Continue reading

Prodigals

a sermon from Erin Pendreigh as preached at St John's and St Andrew's 10 March 2013. Scripture Luke 15:11-32

Who do we identify with this morning?

Illusion (Young woman Old lady)

Have a look at it this image for a moment – who do you see?

Do you see the young lady – or the old woman?

Try as I might I can only see the young lady.

I have tried turning my head this way and that – but the old woman just won’t appear for me.  I have a memory of seeing this picture a while ago and I am sure that I could see both – I thought I must have been really clever —- but I wonder if it was that I was just open to the possibilities.

So who do you see? Continue reading

Something New

a sermon for Sunday 27th January and the commissioning of Erin Pendreigh as Intern Minister. Read Isaiah 43:8-21 and Luke 4:14-21

I will do something new among you – now it will spring forward will you not be aware of it, I will even make roadways in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, I will do something new.

These are familiar words first declared by Isaiah to the people of Israel and now spoken to us.

As we begin to look at this we need to keep in mind the situation they were written for. There is some debate about who actually wrote this part of Isaiah: no one seriously doubts he wrote the first 39 chapters – the events described here took place during his ministry, 740BC to possibly as late as 681BC or thereabouts. A long ministry.

The problem is that the events described in chapter 40 and following took place after his death – roughly 200 years after his ministry began.

So either Isaiah was shown a glimpse of the future, maybe like John the writer of Revelations, or another author alive at the time penned these words under Isaiah’s name. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Savouring Scripture

SERMON 5 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 18 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Psalm 1:1-3; Psalm 119:97-105 (better read the whole psalm); 2 Timothy 3:1-17

 

The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.

Martin Luther, “Martin Luther–The Early Years,” Christian History, no. 34.

And I add – it challenges me, comforts me and converts me.

This book we call ‘the Bible’ is no ordinary book – it is living and active, continually challenging us to uncover fresh meaning and giving us insight into how we might live out God’s story. By savouring Scripture we are challenged to change, we are comforted with knowledge of God’s love, we are converted to Jesus likeness and thus he is seen in us, in our attitudes, and in our actions.

What is the Bible?

  • A collection of stories
  • A book
  • Scripture – holy Words
  • A Word of God
  • The Word of God

Let’s stop with that thought for a moment. The Bible is the Word of God. What does that mean?

This is no ordinary book – it is not a story about God, it is not a text book about God, it is God’s Word to us.

That surely affects the way we regard it! Given that we say we LOVE God you’d expect that we would love God’s Word. Given that we say we want to follow Jesus you’d expect we would immerse ourselves in the Word to know him more.

Yet strangely we don’t. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Prayer with Ears

SERMON 4 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 11 NOVEMBER 2012.  READ Ecc 5:1-3; MATT 6:1, 5-8

Of late we’ve been exploring Spiritual Disciplines: 

Discipline does seem to be an unpopular word yet it is a word that conveys an approach to walking with Jesus that is lacking in the Church today.

Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Fasting that pleases God

SERMON 3 OF 5 IN A SERIES EXPLORING SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, PREACHED 04 November 2012.  READ Matthew 6:1-18

You don’t hear much about fasting these days, in fact in the worship surveys conducted at the start of the year some here noted that they knew little about fasting and that they have never heard teaching on it.

Well that is about to change!

I guess as we look around our culture we can understand why fasting may be out of favour.

It doesn’t fit!

Seemingly in NZ and much of the world we’ve become conditioned to comfort, excess and instant gratification and that direction is only increasing.

If we want fast food – we want it now, and if they can’t serve us in only a few minutes we complain. Following trends set overseas we increasingly upsize our orders, and at a eat all you can buffet we end up eating more than we need, even more than we should – just because it’s there.

This attitude of having what we want when we want it extends to most aspects of life: texting, FB, entertainment. There is little we have to wait for. And we believe it’s our right to satisfy our desires whenever we want. So excess marks our landscape: and in the busyness of satisfying ourselves where is God?

God of course is where God has always been. Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines: Thanksgiving

Sermon 2 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Discipline, preached 28 October 2012.  Read Colossians 3:1-17

Last Sunday I introduced the topic of Spiritual Disciples. As I said at the time these take many forms but essentially are any practise that we undertake that helps us make space for God in our life; or to put it another way ‘Disciplines are simply practices that train us in faithfulness…’ (Marjorie Thompson in Soul Feast).

Or in yet another way: practices that put ourselves in the way of God’s transforming presence, so that we live in the presence of God’s power; so that we experience the power of God’s presence.

And this is important! I experience myself at times the difficulty of knowing God, and I hear from many others that the idea of living in the presence of God’s power is but a distant dream – a personal relationship with God is something that others might have but it is not their experience.

Having faith in God is essential – but there is more…

KNOWING God deeply, personally, intimately and knowing that we are KNOWN by God is Joy, it is life-giving, it is the type of relationship that I believe we were created for, and is available to us NOW.

Thankfulness is but one way we can know God more.

Scripture is full of encouragement to be thankful; Psalm 95 heard earlier is typical: ‘let us come before Him with thanksgiving’.

In the New Testament Paul encourages the Colossians in thankfulness.  “… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). Continue reading

Transformational Disciplines

Sermon 1 of 5 in a series exploring Spiritual Disciplines (or practices), preached 21st October, Read Romans 12 especially verses 1-2


I’m returning today to a passage that is one of my favourites: I find that God is often bringing these words to my mind – probably because I need to hear and apply them.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.   (Romans 12:1-2, NIV) Continue reading

A sermon for Spring

A sermon preached Sunday 16th September 2012. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:35-57.
Sometimes living here in the south it seems like winter just does not want to go away.  Late snow, plunging temperatures, howling winds, dismal days all seem to do their best to dampen our spirits as they assert their control.

The garden – often looks unkempt, untidy, uninspiring..

Yet every year spring does roll around and claim it’s time.

Our garden right now is bursting with new life – and spring colour. The roses are sending out new growth, the Rhododendrons are breaking into colour, the blossom blooms, weeds have suddenly appeared and amongst it all daffodils and tulips and unknown things are thrusting their fragile heads above the cold earth.

Living here in the manse for our first spring this is all new to us – unlike last year when we knew what we’d planted here we have no idea what lies beneath the ground. We have no way of knowing what will come up – so there’s extra delight as we’re surprised by what is now pushing it’s way through the earth.

Continue reading

Lessons from Joseph: Grace Wins!

a sermon from Sunday 9th September, Read Genesis 42:1-29, 36-38 

It’s time to wrap up our story of Joseph for the time being.  Much has changed in his life as we have journeyed with him, we have been challenged by this story to examine our relationships, with family and friends, and God.  We’ve been reminded of the ways temptation can whisper to us and the need to stand firm, and we’ve seen how God can use us when we wait faithfully for his time, and are spiritually centred in Him.  And now today we catch up with the family again, reunited after about 25 years apart. Continue reading