Join us this Sunday as we explore faith over fear. In the current state of the world, there are many things that instil fear. We are alive in the middle of a global pandemic that has completely changed the way we do things. It can be easy to fall into fear, but as followers of Jesus Christ we are called to have faith. We will be exploring what it looks like for us as believers to put our trust and to have faith in Jesus.
Faith is courageous. Courage isn’t something you feel when you’re not afraid, courage is not letting your fear stop you or hinder you. Courage is a force of its own and Jesus wants us to have it when we hear him say, "it’s me."
2020 has been full of surprises. who would have thought that there would have been a global pandemic?
I have heard a lot of theories about why all these things have been happening, maybe God is judging us? Maybe the end is near? Maybe Jesus is coming back?
Join us Sunday 11th October as we explore the scriptures and look at what Jesus is saying to the church at this time.
We’ll take a look at the book of Mark, including its surprise ending.
We will be checking out some things that are in this book, and some things that have been left out ot it, to explore how Mark speaks to us as Jesus’ followers today.
It has a special message for people who are battling with difficult life circumstances.
Philadelphia was a growing church. They were doing some things OK. The city was founded about 150 years before Jesus and was named Philadelphia because an early prominent leader had been so loyal to his brother that people had nicknamed him - “brother lover”. So the Greek name combining the two ideas of ‘brother’ and ‘love’ came together to give us the name … Philadelphia.
The city was poised right at the crossroads of different cultures. It was built to influence travellers and those who would come through that crossroads in Greek ideas and Greek thought. This church also faced open hostility from a ‘sect’ of people who considered themselves to be a higher “level” of Christian.
Jesus message to the Philadelphians, and to us, is that regardless of the culture, regardless of the increasing secularisation of the society, regardless of increasing anti-Christian sentiment, regardless of the opposition, regardless of the odds, God can do things through us, and through us as a church that are unstoppable.
This letter gives us another secret to growth and change to those of us who are feeling a
little bit complacent. Maybe we feel a little more bored than blessed when we connect with church … Perhaps we feel a lot more attached to this world than we’d like - (who doesn’t struggle with that?) and looking us straight in the eye Jesus says - “I want you to see your need as you never have before. Then I’d be able to meet your need as I never have before.”
John writes this way to the church in Laodicea - “To the angel of the church of Laodicea write, ‘These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds that you’re neither cold nor hot … I wish that you were one or the other … But you don’t realise you’re wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you get from me gold refined in the fire so you can become rich and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness salve to put on your eyes so you can see.”
(Revelation 3:14 ff)
Not easy words from Jesus but they end with his remarkable promise - “Look! I am standing at the door and I'm constantly knocking. If anyone opens the door I will come in and I’ll fellowship with him; I’ll relate to him, I’ll dine with him and he’ll fellowship with me.” (Revelation 3:20 – Message)
“I know your reputation. I know your deeds, that you have a reputation of being alive. But you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). Jesus had some pretty tough words for the church in Sardis to hear. But if they were going to grow and if they were going to change, they needed to hear some tough words.
Sometimes we do too! And there’s a secret to growth and change in this letter to the Sardis church that we can appropriate - “don't give up, wake up!" When we feel like we’re at a dead-end, that's the time in life to wake up and see God's new direction in our lives. It’s a time to “… strengthen what remains and is about to die”.
When we’re at a “dead-end” we can pray –
Lord, help us see the gaps in our lives
Lord help us close the gaps in our lives, and
Lord, with you, thank you that we will overcome.
Revelation 2 describes 7 churches - Ephesus was a busy church, Smyrna was a suffering church, Pergamum was a confused church and the church in Thyatira; it was a tolerant church.
Thyatira was on an important trade route. Most of the trading that went on there was strong and growing. But there was a hitch for the local church. To survive economically at that time and to have a job it was really necessary to be a part of a trade guild - a bit like a union. That wouldn't have been so bad, except if you belonged to a guild, you were required to participate in banquets hosted by the guilds. And these banquets were legendary for their immorality.
Can you see some similarities today? Where the cultural path to living, to just putting food on the table and a roof over our head brings tension with our Christian life?
The encouragement of this letter is that – we not “drop our guard”; especially in light of the promise - “I will give (to the ones who hold fast) the morning star!” (Revelation 2:28)
Paul, writing to Timothy says – “Anyone who has a different teaching does not agree with the true teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that shows the true way to serve God (1Timothy 6:5)
One of the seven letters to churches that we read in Revelation 2 and 3 is to a church in a place called Pergamum. The people there had many struggles. And those struggles resulted in a lot of “confusion” in the church.
Jesus reminds this church (and he reminds us, as he talks to this church), that our doubts and confusion can grow out of our relationships. Because the Pergamum church had left truth behind, they were in danger, not from the books they were reading and not from the thoughts they were thinking but from the relationships they were allowing into their lives.
This letter shares Jesus’ concern when we leave ‘truth’ behind and it reminds us how important relationships are when it comes to knowing and living the truth.