Grounded in the Gospel: Faith Challenged - The Transfiguration of Christ

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 9:2-13

annie-spratt-454815-unsplash.jpg

The transfiguration of Christ marks a major turning point in the gospel narrative, for Jesus was now getting closer and closer to His suffering and death on the cross. Already, there was rising opposition against Him, but despite all this, he had set His mind on Jerusalem, where shame, humiliation and death was waiting.  Jesus was ready and willing to face His death head on because He knew the impact His suffering and death would have on the nation of Israel and the entire world.

The disciple’s faith was challenged by Christ’s suffering and death

Unlike Jesus, the disciples were struggling to grapple with the idea of a suffering Messiah. They did not yet understand why Jesus had to suffer and die. The message of Jesus’s suffering and death caused unsettling, confusion and discouragement to them, to a point where Peter even tried to talk Jesus out of it, but was rebuked by Him.

 

Grounded in the Gospel: The Heart of the Matter

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 7:1-23

aaron-burden-181246.jpg

Jesus was known as the Prince of Peace, full of grace and truth.  Why then did controversy pursue him and conflict dog his steps.  From the moment of his birth King Herod tried to eliminate him.  Throughout his public ministry the religious leaders pursued him relentlessly, culminating in his death by crucifixion.

 

The conflict wasn’t political.  Last week we noted that Jesus resisted the call of the crowd, after he fed the five thousand, to become a populist liberator from Rome.  Nor did Jesus directly confront the social structures of the day.  “My kingdom is not of this world”, he said and “those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword”.

Grounded in the Gospel: Amazing Compassion

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 6:30-56

382bea19-4280-4ab1-8292-2827bd1b58b8-woman-freedom-chains-iStock.jpg

Mark describes two banquets in chapter six.  One was held in a fortress-palace, the other in the rolling hills of Galilee.  One led to the death of John the Baptist, the other to the feeding of five thousand.  The hosts were poles apart.  Herod was prompted by self-serving power, Jesus by compassion and care.

 

The feeding of the five thousand is recorded in all four gospels, indicative of its importance. 

Grounded in the Gospel: Mounting Opposition

Preacher: Jones Liwewe

Verses: Mark 6:1-13

aaron-burden-181246.jpg

Mark 6: 1-13 shows us how Jesus carried His mission in His hometown and how people responded to His ministry. Christ has commissioned us to carry His mission into our hometown, our families, and the rest of the world. This passage therefore, helps us to understand the purpose, the offensiveness, and the nature of Christ mission.

Our Trinitarian Faith Part 2 - The Trinity and the Christian Life

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Luke 3:21-22, Luke 9:28-36, Luke 10:1-24

CrossAndBible.jpg

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, dismissed the doctrine of the Trinity with the scathing words, “These metaphysical insanities hindered the growth of humanity and represented relapses into polytheism differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible.  How can we talk about a triune God or the three in one without talking mathematical and metaphysical nonsense.”

Our Trinitarian Faith

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Luke 3:21-22, Luke 9:28-36, Luke 10:1-24

CrossAndBible.jpg

Many people dismiss the Trinity as impractical or irrelevant. In so doing they miss the essential nature of God – three persons in one. Human attempts to explain the logic of one plus one plus one equalling one invariably fail. Resorting to models and analogies are equally reductionist. However, as Anselm of Canterbury reminded us in the 11th Century, the mystery of theology is a matter of faith seeking understanding, we believe in order to understand. As such we turn to Scripture with a teachable mind in order to fathom the mystery of the Trinity. When we allow Scripture to speak for itself, we catch glimpses of the Trinity in the O.T. not simply as an expression of ‘the plurality of majesty’ or the ‘royal we’; but the Triune God conferring with himself in the creation of mankind (Gen 1:26) and the call of Isaiah (Isa 6:8) to name but two incidents...

Pentecost Sunday: An Invitation and a Promise

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: John 7:37-39

hand-wash.png

Last Saturday thousands of people thronged the streets of Windsor to catch a glimpse of the royal couple Prince Harry and Megan Markle as they rode past in an open carriage. Millions more watched the spectacle on television. Six hundred invited guests attended the wedding in the chapel of St. George.
No less a spectacle was the Feast of Tabernacles some two thousand years ago, where the invitation of Jesus was not restricted to 600 people, but was open to all. Celebrated in the Jewish autumn of September and October, the feast recalled God’s provision for his people during the wilderness wandering prior to entering the Promised Land...

You Are Witness of These Things - From Disbelief to Worship

Preacher: Lincon Hardouin

Verses: Luke 24:36-53)

382bea19-4280-4ab1-8292-2827bd1b58b8-woman-freedom-chains-iStock.jpg

In the passage before this we are told about an encounter that two disciples had with a person on the road to Emmaus. As they were travelling, Jesus appeared before them and began to journey with them; however, they were kept from recognizing who he was. Their discussion revolved around the events which had recently taken place in Jerusalem, concerning the crucifixion of Jesus, and while they journeyed together, Jesus began to open and explain the scriptures concerning himself, beginning with Moses and the Prophets. Yet it was only through the breaking of bread that their eyes were opened and they recognized that it was in fact Jesus there with them. At this moment, v31, we have the realization of the resurrection and, v35, the proclamation of the resurrection as these two disciples travel back to Jerusalem to tell the others what had just happened...

Grounded in the Gospel: Authentic Listening

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 4:1-20

annie-spratt-454815-unsplash.jpg

A parable can be likened to an audiology test. Hearing, or better heeding, is the only way to understand the parables of Jesus. Parables are like stained glass windows; dull and opaque from the outside, brilliant and shining from within. Jesus in this instance speaks of a sower indiscriminately scattering seed which falls in turn on the pathway, rocky ground, among thorns and good soil. The farmer is excessive and almost wasteful. So intent is he on a harvest, that he sows in every corner of the field. Even so, typical of the austere farming conditions, rocks, thorns and adverse elements see three quarters of his labour lost. Hardly encouraging odds. But the parable does not end on a discouraging note. The good soil produces a breathtaking harvest with amazing results in spite of poor beginnings....

Grounded in the Gospel: From Fear to Faith

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 5:1-20

guillaume-de-germain-92869-unsplash.jpg

Jesus’ encounter with a demonized man is a salient reminder of two extremes to be avoided. Some dismiss the devil as a mythological character personified as a cartoon character, others have an unhealthy preoccupation with his dark world. In the preface to his “Screwtape Letters”, CS Lewis writes, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”...

Grounded in the Gospel: Following Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 3:7-35)

peter-feghali-339944-unsplash.jpg

Wherever Jesus went crowds followed him.
They saw him as a celebrity, itinerant rabbi. Attracted by his miracles and healing they gathered in Galilee from far and wide: Jewish people from Judea and Jerusalem some 140kms away, Idumea and Transjordan culturally diverse, Tyre and Sidon some 70kms away majority Gentile. However, Mark regards the crowds as passive onlookers at best, obstructive obstacles at worst...

Grounded in the Gospel: The Power of Forgiveness

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 2:1-17

sabine-van-straaten-280388-unsplash.jpg

The funeral of Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela last Saturday has placed forgiveness and reconciliation front and centre in South-Africa. On a global scale we have seen governments and countries engage in potentially deadly tit-for-tat retaliations. Many people regard forgiveness as a sign of weakness. Revenge for them is the only moral way out. People who live that way tend to think that God is like that too. As Tom Wright put it, “Forgiveness is the most powerful thing in the world. But because it is so costly, we prefer to settle for second best.”
Not so for Jesus...

The Servant Songs: Courage for the Call

Preacher: Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes

Verses:  Isaiah 49:1-7 and John 1:29-42

gaelle-marcel-161096-unsplash.jpg

On the 11th of March we had the privilege to have The Word preached to us by a sister in Christ from the USA, the Rev. Elsie Armstrong Rhodes.

She shared the above sermon with the congregation, providing a beautiful, encouraging and challenging message on faith, trust and the courage to go into the world and shine God's light.

Grounded in the Gospel: Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom & Calls His Disciples

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:14-20 & Jonah 3:1-10

aaron-burden-181246.jpg

In both texts, Mark 1:14-20 and Jonah 3:1-10, the writers (Mark & Jonah) are trying to show us two important things:

  1. The necessity of the gospel
  2. The nature of discipleship

The story of the City of Nineveh is one that shows the impact that proclamation of God’s message has on a life of sinner. Firstly, it brings salvation. Secondly, it demands repentance—a radical change of heart. The content of the message shows the problem of humanity (sin), its consequence (impending judgement), and solution to the problem (God’s plan of salvation). It is a message of hope—the forgiveness of sin. The story also shows us that without God, man is lost, and without hope. Salvation of man is the work of God alone.

Grounded in the Gospel: The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:6-13

aaron-burden-181246.jpg

Of all the gospel writers, it is Mark who affirms the humanity of Jesus in a compelling way. Having highlighted the divinity of Jesus right at the outset as “the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1), he underscores the humanity of Jesus. Jesus grows hungry and thirsty. He falls asleep in the prow of the disciples’ boat. He is unaware of things on one occasion. Mark invites us to enter the drama of his gospel by following the actions and activities of Jesus. The pace is breath taking at times as out preconceived ideas about Jesus are challenged to the core. Mark is more concerned with what Jesus does than what he says...

Grounded in the Gospel: John the Baptist Prepares the Way

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Mark 1:1-8

aaron-burden-181246.jpg

Mark tells us upfront and centre what the gospel is.
It is the story of Jesus; not a mystery story in which we must piece together clues to discover its meaning, not a test of dates and places, not a mere system of thought or speculation. He writes for Roman Gentiles under the direction of Peter. He uses Old Testament quotations sparingly. Remarkably he begins his story with a tapestry of three Old Testament verses from Exodus, Malachi and Isaiah. He reminds us that the gospel is only understandable in light of what God has done in the Old Testament Jesus is not an afterthought of God, plan B as it were as if an earlier plan of salvation had gone awry.

John’s calling is to ‘prepare the way’ for the One to follow. He is identified with Elijah who did not die but was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). The expectation was that Elijah would return as a forerunner of God’s kingdom in the final day (Malachi 4:5)...

The Gospel According to Isaiah - Part 6: Hope fulfilled

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Series: The Gospel According to Isaiah

Verses: Isaiah 11:1-16

Hope has been described as the oxygen of the soul. Unlike Robert Louis Stevenson’s observation “to travel hopefully is better that to arrive”, Christian hope is grounded in the promise of God. It is not a matter of human ability and potential, rather the sure and certain expectation that a faithful God will achieve that which he has purposed and planned. This is the touchstone of Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus the Messiah. Not only is he “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” (v1), i.e. a descendant of King David’s father in royal lineage, he is “the root of Jesse” i.e. the one from whom Jesse receives life...

The Gospel According to Isaiah - Part 5: The Trustworthiness of God

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Verses: Isaiah 9:1-7

Series: The Gospel According to Isaiah

Having celebrated Pentecost and Trinity Sunday we return to our exposition of Isaiah. George Frideric Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’ made famous for all time Isaiah’s magnificent poem prophecy (vv2-7) preceded by a verse of prose in which the gloom and despair associated with the capable yet foolish king Ahaz is dispelled. The area which suffered most at the hands of Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria in 734-733 BC will be the first to experience something glorious that is to come.

The Gospel According to Isaiah - Part 4: Misplaced Fear

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Series: The Gospel According to Isaiah

Verses: Isaiah 7 & 8

isaiah

The year is 734 BC, some six years after the death of King Uzziah and the call of Isaiah. Judah is threatened by a coalition of her northern neighbours, Israel and Syria. They intend to replace Ahaz with a puppet king thereby forming a tripartite alliance against Assyria. Isaiah tells Ahaz to trust the Lord for deliverance and not resort to political intrigue. His words “be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid… if you do not stand firm in your faith you will not stand at all” (7:9b) are ignored. Isaiah is accompanied by his son Shear-Jashub (a remnant will return) a sign and symbol that not all Judah follows the sinful example of their king. Ahaz contemptuously dismisses God’s further prophetic sign of Immanuel (God with us) and prefers to seek help from Assyria against the northern alliance, thereby catching a tiger by its tail. Ironically, Assyria once having dealt with Israel and Damascus would turn on Judah and lay siege to Jerusalem within a decade or so....

The Gospel According To Isaiah - Part 2: Lament for God’s Vineyard

Preacher: Alan Cameron

Series: The Gospel According to Isaiah

Verses: Isaiah 5:1-7

Isaiah exercised his prophetic ministry at a time of unique significance, a pivotal point between the birth of the nation under Moses and the coming of Jesus the Messiah. The old world was passing away. An entirely new order, the age of empires, was emerging. Where would Israel stand in that new world? Would she rely on God alone for salvation, or resort to the political machinations of her kings? Would she be swallowed up in a world empire or would she resist the march of the new world system. This was the scenario which confronted Isaiah...