December 13, 2008

st-bm-combiWelcome to the ministry pages of St Barnacles website.

St Barnacles is the website of St Michael’s & St Barnabas churches, Devonport.

This is where we publish sermons and other bible study materials for further study.

You can browse or search all our published resources using the sidebar to the right of each page.

Please do use the contact page or comment options to share your insights or questions with us.


Continue to live in Him

July 17, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 15th July 2018

Readings – Colossians 2:5-19; Luke 9:18-27

Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the church in a place called Colossae. Although it was written nearly 2000 years ago, we have seen there is so much that this letter can teach us today, about the way the good news spreads and grows, about the way a leader should care for the church, and above all about the identity of Jesus Christ, whom Colossians 1:15 tells us is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. And I very much hope that if you haven’t been here, you’ve caught up with the sermons online, or if not, will ask for a copy after the service.

The one thing this letter doesn’t tell us, however, is how the church in Colossae received Paul’s letter. All that we know about Colossae is mentioned in this particular book of the New Testament, and we hear nothing about it anywhere else in the Bible. So when Paul’s messenger, a chap called Tychicus, turned up and read out the letter, we can only guess at the reaction. Did some walk out? Did some cheer and applaud? Were some completely distracted by the latest sporting news? We simply don’t know – only that someone somewhere decided it was worth keeping this letter, and for that we must all be profoundly grateful.

But we do know rather more about the sister church of the Colossians which was in a place called Laodicea about 10 miles along the valley on the banks of the Lycus River. This church was probably also founded by Paul’s fellow-worker Epaphras mentioned in Col 1:7 and we do know Paul considered the churches in Colossae and Laodicea as having some special connection. That’s why in Col 2:1 he tells his hearers: I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea and we learn later on from Col 4:16 that the letter Paul wrote to the Colossians was also to be read to the Laodiceans. In modern Church of England jargon, they were one mission community serving the same region with the one aim of making Jesus known.

So what happened to the church in Laodicea? Well, if you were turn over to the book of Revelation, written perhaps a generation later, you will find these words in Revelation 3:14-16: To the angel of the church in 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 are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth. That’s a very different tone and a very different message from the warm words Paul wrote to the Colossian church. Jesus, the ruler of God’s creation, is issuing a stern warning of judgement against these believers who have over the years have become lukewarm and half-hearted in their faith.

Read the rest of this entry »

The marks of a true apostle

July 9, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 8th July 2018

Readings – Colossians 1:24-2:5, Luke 9:1-6

If you were here a couple of weeks ago, you will know we had a fun All-Age worship looking at the parable of the sower. I planted a load of seeds in four different pots and ever since then Lynda has been regularly watering them in our back garden. My plan is that in a few weeks’ time I will bring the pots back here to St Michael’s and I am just hoping it is the seed that was planted in good soil which will actually be growing!

Four soils – week 1

As we saw back then, the seed Jesus is talking about in this parable is the word of God. God’s way of growing his kingdom is by spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in our hearts, and creating communities of faith and love called the church. But as Jesus makes clear in other parables God is not the only one who goes around spreading His word. There are in every age and in every generation false teachers who plant their own message and build their own types of churches.

It might be the false teaching of a cult like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons who change the message of the Bible. It might be the false teaching of a theologian or scholar who blinds us with their learning. It might be the false teaching of some website or Facebook group which pops up on our search engine. But in whatever form it exists, it is important we recognise false teaching and know how to deal with it. Because although false teaching looks like the real thing, although it may promise much, in the end it cannot change lives for good, and it substitutes human wisdom for the power and glory of Jesus Christ.

It was precisely in order to counter false teaching that Paul wrote his letter to the church at Colossae. From what we can gather, it seems that some had come along claiming to promote a higher and better form of Christian religion, and they were undermining the work that Paul’s friend Epaphras had done to plant and establish the church. And in all the confusion that was going on, there were no doubt believers who were questioning whether Paul was the real deal, and were unsure whether the version of the faith Paul was promoting was the right one. Read the rest of this entry »

We are what we worship?

July 1, 2018

St Michael & St Barnabas, July 1st 2018

Readings: Colossians 1:15-23; Luke 8:22-25

Have you ever met someone who, when you mention you are a Christian, simply says, ‘I don’t believe in God!’? Next time, try asking them to describe the God they don’t believe in … I suspect you don’t believe in that kind of God, either!

Or perhaps you know someone who puts limits on the God they believe in … ‘If God is love then he wouldn’t allow this, that or the other’, or even, ‘If God is love, then he won’t stop me doing what I want!’.

Over the years, I’ve found that people are generally quite happy to talk about God … he makes them feel good, or superior, or comfortable. But ask them to describe God and they will either struggle – because it’s all about how it makes them feel – or the God they describe will be nothing like the God we see revealed in Jesus, through the Bible.

You see, Jesus is the image of the invisible God (1:15). Do you remember in John’s gospel, while Jesus is teaching his disciples on that last evening, the evening of his betrayal, Philip asks a question:

John 14:8 … Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’

How did Jesus reply? Read the rest of this entry »

AAW – The Parable of the Sower

June 25, 2018

St Michael & St Barnabas, 24th June

Reading – Luke 8:4-15

Sometimes when you hear something, it’s just interesting to know what you are listening to.

But sometimes when you hear something, it’s important to respond to the sound.

For example, if you hear someone cutting down a tree, you may need to make sure you are not standing in the way. Or if you hear a police car coming, it’s probably not a good idea to cross the road.

Sometimes when you listen, you need to take action. Read the rest of this entry »

Colossians – Thanksgiving and Prayer

June 25, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 17th June 2018

Readings – Luke 7:36-50; Colossians 1:3-14

If you were here last week, you will know that we began a new sermon series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. We saw that although the way most Bibles are set out, it doesn’t look much like a letter, when you format the opening couple of verses properly, suddenly the layout becomes much clearer. We also saw how Paul’s greeting helped us to understand the main themes of the letter, and then at the end I left you with some questions to consider, namely, if Paul was writing to the church in Devonport…

… what would he thank God for?

… what would he pray to God about us?

where would he encourage us?

… where would he challenge us?

We shared some of the answers on Thursday night at our praise and party.

We thought …

he would give thanks for the fact we are a united family; for the faithfulness of those who have gone before us; for the faith of the church members; for the way we include everybody.

he would pray that we might include young people; reach out more effectively; grow in encouragement and fellowship; and help newcomers become disciples.

he would encourage us to bring others along to our church.

… he would challenge us to get out of our comfort zone; to build up our small groups; to support one another better; to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Read the rest of this entry »

The letter to the Colossians

June 11, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 10th June 2018

Readings – Luke 7:1-17; Colossians 1:1-7

Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away there were no computers, no mobile phones, no smart devices. If you wanted to communicate with someone, you had to make marks on a piece of paper. Those marks were called a letter. And before you could send it, you had to leave the comfort of your home, and find a letterbox or post office. As for the person receiving it, they had to wait at least a day before it arrived through their door, and sometimes more. It all seems so far removed from today’s age of instant communication, and yet it really was only a generation ago.

And if like me you are a dinosaur, you might even remember learning at school how to formally write a letter. When I was clearing out my mother’s stuff a few years ago, I came across some letters I had written as practice to advertise some event or other at school. I wonder how children would react today if they had to write out every letter that went home in their school bag? Read the rest of this entry »

… that we may give ourselves to the service of God.

May 28, 2018

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 27th May 2018

Readings – John 13:1-17; Romans 8:5-17

If you have seen or heard anything of the Royal Wedding, you will know that one of the major talking points was the sermon by the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry. For some people it was a real highlight. Ed Miliband tweeted it was almost enough to make him a believer which probably says more about Ed Miliband than Archbishop Curry. For some it was an embarrassment and something that was totally out of character with an essentially British occasion. For me, well, it was fine as far as it went. The trouble was, it didn’t go that far.

Of course the world needs love. Of course love comes from God. Of course if we truly loved, societies and nations would be transformed. But if it was that easy to love wouldn’t we have made the world a better place already?

In fact the more you look into it, the more you realise that the whole idea of love is really quite difficult, and although a Royal Wedding may not have been the place to highlight these difficulties, it would have been good to acknowledge in some way the cost and the commitment involved in love, particularly as one party had been married before.

So what else could or should have been said about love? For a start, it is very important to realise that there are different forms of love. The love that a prince has for his bride is not the same as the love that exists in a family, for example. Nor is it the same as the love that you might have for your favourite football team or for ice cream or chocolate. And it is certainly not the same as the love that builds up and binds a church together. Read the rest of this entry »