Wrapping up Romans

June 16, 2013

St Barnabas, 16th June 2013

Reading – Romans 16:17-27

What the Lord has said to us so far …

Today we are coming to the end of our sermon series on Romans, and there has been no doubt this has been an extremely significant series in terms of our life together here at St Barnabas. We are at a critical point where we face many challenges over the next few months. And precisely at this moment the Lord has led us through the latter part of Romans and I believe spoken to us powerfully by His Spirit.

To recap: we began just after Easter when we came to Romans 12. We saw that if we have received God’s mercy then we are part of the body of Christ. God does not just call us into a living, personal relationship with Him, wonderful though that is. He also calls us into a new relationship with our fellow believers and makes them our brothers and sisters in the very deepest sense. The church, that is St Barnabas and all who are gathered here this morning, is our family and Christ’s body. We belong to God and to each other. And while we may all be very different from one another, and while we each have our own gifts and ministries, nonetheless we are called together to be God’s people, sharing our very lives with each other.

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Romans 15:7 – Accept one another then …

June 11, 2013

St Michael & St Barnabas, June 9th 2013

Readings – Romans 15:14-22; Matthew 7:24-29

A couple of weeks ago, I started with an outline of Paul’s teaching in Romans, right from chapter 1 up to our reading in chapter 14. We saw how the first 11 chapters of this letter are the theological foundation for everything that follows, and how his very practical instructions in chapter 12 onwards, build on that foundation. I’m not going to go through it all again this morning, you’ll be relieved to hear, but if you missed it, or need a reminder – take a look at the church website, or ask me for a paper copy.

We’ve seen throughout this series that the key or principle image is that of the church as the body of Christ. Building on Tim’s outline from chapter 12, that we are the body of Christ, that we belong to God and that we belong to each other (you should be familiar with that by now!), we’ve looked carefully at certain significant verses along the way, each time seeing how they fit into this overall theme.

Last week here at St Barnabas, we concentrated on the Matthew reading for the sake of the baptism, but had we continued with our study in Romans we would have discovered another key verse … actually, the focus of the entire letter … Romans 15:7 … Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

It seems to me that sums up everything we’ve been reading together, so this morning I’m going to put this verse into context, before briefly moving on to today’s reading, at which point Paul is beginning to bring his letter to a close by moving on to some personal comments – and Tim will bring this series to a close next week by looking at those in more detail.

So, we’re going to focus for the moment on Romans 15:4-7 …

everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

The first thing that struck me about these verses is that endurance and encouragement originate with God.

Did anyone ever tell you that being a Christian was going to be easy? Read the rest of this entry »


Accept him whose faith is weak

May 27, 2013

St Barnabas & St Michael, 26th May 2013

Readings – Romans 14; Matthew 7:1-12

After taking a break for Pentecost last week, this week we’re back on track with our sermon series in Romans, where we’ve reached Chapter 14.

Introduction/recap

Romans 1-11
Life without God (Ch 1)
All attempts to please God fail (Ch 2)
The law of God and the Jews (Ch 2)
The need for faith – Abraham (Ch 3-4)
Salvation through faith in Christ (Ch 5)
Living as Christians – sin and grace (Ch 6-7)
Living with the Holy Spirit (Ch 8)
Our future victory in Christ (Ch 8)
God’s judgement and mercy (Ch 9)
God and the Jews (Ch 10-11)
And a huge shout of praise (Ch 11)!

In the first eleven chapters of the book Paul laid the foundations of his teaching about the church, the body of Christ … not going through it in detail, but you can see a brief outline above.

All leading up to one word, right at the beginning of Chapter 12 – Therefore

Romans 12

Therefore … in view of God’s mercy …

Love must be sincere.

Therefore … in view of God’s mercy … then, as we’ve seen, the next two chapters are full of practical instructions as to how to live in view of God’s mercy … as his people, the church, and we have spent the last few weeks looking closely at the details. In the first sermon in this series, Rev Tim gave us this outline …

Seeing the church from God’s point of view …

We are the body of Christ

We belong to God

We belong to each other

As the people of God we belong to each other, and our primary focus is to love one another sincerely, and continually. We’ve looked at the practical ways we put that love into action, at the difference it makes to our lives and to our witness, even how it affects our relationship with the ruling authorities!

Romans 13

…there is no authority except that which God has established.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another …

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Ready for the Big Day!

May 12, 2013

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 12th May 2013

Readings – Matthew 5:21-26; Romans 13:8-14

Well, tomorrow it’s going to be the big day. After years and years of going through the youth teams and the reserves, tomorrow you are finally going to make your debut. You’ve just had a call from the manager. Your name is on the teamsheet. You are about to fulfil your dream.

So what are you going to do? First of all, you are going to make sure you have completed your fitness routine. Maybe you need one last work out in the gym, maybe you need to make sure your muscles are properly toned and massaged. You don’t want to be substituted half way through because you’re off the pace. You want all those hours and hours you spent building up your stamina and speed to pay off, so you give your very best.

You’re also going to have an early night. Of course, you want to go out and celebrate. But that has to wait till afterwards. You don’t want to be hung over or bleary eyed when you board the team bus. You know too many stories of players who have been dropped at the last minute because they’ve been out in the wee hours. They’ve let themselves and the team down.

But before you turn in, you’re also going to check all your kit one last time. You don’t want any little details affecting your performance. You want your boots to fit perfectly, you want to make sure the laces are the right length, you want to check the studs are all in order.

And then if you can, you try to sleep, imagining what will happen when the big day comes…

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Love in the wider world

May 6, 2013

St Michael’s and St Barnabas 5th May 13

Reading – Romans 13:1-7

Over the past couple of weeks we have been thinking about our life together as the body of Christ. If you’ve been unable to be here, I hope you have had a chance to read the sermons online. We’ve been thinking how important it is to recognise we belong to God and to each other, because that’s what being the body of Christ is all about. Thanks to Jesus’ death on a cross we have a new relationship with God as our Heavenly Father and with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

And as we have seen, the hallmark of our life together is love. What marks the church out – at least in theory – from any other organisation or charity is a deep Christlike love one for another, where no one person is seen as better than any other, where everyone belongs, and everyone uses their gifts in Christ’s service. What does this love look like in practice?

Paul gave us the answer in last week’s reading, Romans 12:9-13:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practise hospitality.

So I hope over the past week you’ve had the time and opportunity to think about these verses, and consider your response. It is just so important that as a church we understand the nature of God’s love and then show it in direct, practical actions. To befriend someone in church you don’t really know and maybe share a meal with them. To stand by a fellow believer and give generously and sacrificially to meet their needs. To pray with someone struggling with a long-term affliction. We are called to be a praying, sharing, caring community where our faith makes a real difference.

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Love must be sincere …

April 28, 2013

St Michael’s, 28th April 2012

Readings – Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 5:38-48

Last week, Tim introduced our new sermon series looking at the latter chapters of Romans, starting at chapter 12. At this point in the letter, Paul begins to outline the practical application of all that he has written in Chapters 1-11, and so he starts Chapter 12, ‘Therefore I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy’ … the previous 11 chapters have been Paul’s attempt to describe God’s mercy. So from Ch12, Paul goes on to describe the church as God sees it. Rev Tim’s aim last week was for us to ‘see St Michael’s from God’s point of view’ and he outlined three main points from Romans 12:1-8

that as part of the local church,

we are the body of Christ

we belong to God

we belong to each other

Paul goes on in chapter 12 to give us some very simple, direct instructions as to how to live together as the body of Christ, and today we’re going to work through them together.

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Being the body of Christ

April 28, 2013

St Barnabas 28th April 2013

Reading – Romans 12:1-8

Who, or what do you think of, when you hear the word “church”? If someone asked you who or what is St Barnabas, how would you reply? Would anyone like to make some suggestions…

Thank you. I think the answers have shown that actually the question is not as simple as it first appears. Because, as we have just seen, the word “church” can actually mean different things in different situations.

For example, sometimes it can refer to the actual church building. So when someone asks you, “Where is your church?” you direct them here to this particular place off Stuart Road. You talk about the features like the stained glass windows or the ceiling, or perhaps you explain the history of the redevelopment.

But on other occasions, the word “church” refers not to the building, but to the people who come here to worship. So when you are at some large gathering of different groups across the city and you are asked, “Which is your church?” your first response is probably to point out all the people who have come from St Barnabas.

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