All posts by Joel

Disabled Access to our service.

We have the facility of a ramp for wheelchair users. If you wish to attend our service please come early for us to assist you with the ramp. Or please contact us by telephone to pre arrange your visit.  Our Sunday service is from 10.30am to about 12am.

Please call the church office:  02082152962

For Deaf people wishing to attend there are BSL signers who will assist you with your visit.

Please call the church office:  02082152962

We have a Loop system for people with hearing aids please do not hesitate to ask for assistance if required

We encourage everyone to worship with us on Sunday morning.  If we can assist you in attending please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance

Please call the church office:  02082152962

Jesus Is Building His Church: What Happens In Church?

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH: WHAT HAPPENS IN CHURCH?

God is concerned about his people gathering or meeting together rather than about the buildings we meet in. But what are those meetings meant to do? Church meetings are not a way for a Christian to affect God, to change him. Church meetings are a way for God to change us, to make us different (Ephesians 4:11-13).

Church is not for a Christian to come and go through the same words each week and think, ‘I’ve done what I ought to.’ We may be uncertain and fearful that we have not done enough. Or proud because we think we have done enough.

Church is not for a Christian to come and show God my feelings, to show him how much I love him. We may be uncertain and fearful that our expression is not good enough. Or proud because we think we have expressed such deep devotion.

We do express ourselves, our desires and hopes, in our prayers and in the songs that are to God. But that is not the main reason to come to the meeting. Church is one of the things God uses to change us. When we gather, God uses the teaching, the songs and the prayers to train us to love him and what he has done for us. He trains us to fit in with who he is and with his purposes. He trains us to no longer be fearful and uncertain, we know what he has done and is doing. He trains us to no longer be proud, we know he is the one at work, not us.

This may be a different way of thinking about church from what you thought it is about. You may need to read this sheet a couple of times and think it through.

When we think church is all about me expressing myself to God it creates problems. If we understand that God is using church to change us, we avoid these problems. For example:

1. If I think church is for me to express myself, I will be tempted to be a hypocrite, looking good and not admitting my sin.

When we see that church is something God uses to change us, we will find it easier to admit that we are not scrubbed up, impressive people but that we are weak and inclined to sin.

2. If I think church is for me to express myself, I won’t bother coming to church if I don’t feel like it. After all, what is the point if I am not in the right mood to express myself?

When we see that church is something God uses to change us, we don’t have to ‘feel like coming to church’ for church to be good for us and for us to take part in. In fact, many of us don’t feel like coming on a Sunday morning. But after the church meeting, we are glad that we came. During church, we find that it is only once we start to sing that our feelings may catch up with the songs we are singing.

3. If I think church is for me to express myself, I easily become selfish. I complain about parts of church that don’t suit me.

When we see that church is something God uses to change us, we will join in. We do need to try to find out when we don’t understand parts of the service. Ask; What do these words mean? Why do we pray that prayer? Why do we always have the Bible read? And so on. But we join in, knowing God uses these to change me and others.

4. If I think church is for me to express myself, it is easy to think that what I do matters most, not what God is doing.

When we see that church is something God uses to change us, we see he is doing the main action, not us. He uses our meeting together to do that. We should join in because we trust that God will use our weekly meetings to change us and those around us.

5. If I think church is for me to express myself, I may make the mistake of thinking that words must be spontaneous and unplanned to be genuine and sincere. So using the same words in confession or creeds cannot be sincere.

When we see that church is something God uses to change us, we can find that carefully planned words help. We should take care we don’t use them thoughtlessly. But sometimes it is only by using words many times that the penny drops. We know that doing the same thing again and again is good in other parts of life: to keep teeth healthy by brushing, to learn piano.

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Church is not for us to come and show God our devotion. It is how God re-directs our hearts, trains us to desire the right things. Church isn’t something we do to God, it is where God does something to us.

Jesus Is Building His Church: What Is Church?

People use the word ‘church’ for several different things: A building ‘he opened the door to the church’; a job ‘he went into the church’; a Christian meeting ‘they were late for church’; a denomination ‘I am in the Anglican Church’; a local congregation ‘the church were glad when the missionary visited.’

But what does the Bible mean by ‘church’? It is a gathering or people, a meeting. The word used for ‘church’ in the Bible is the normal, everyday word for a ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’. (There is more information on this over the page.)

What makes us come together? You may sit together with very different people from you on the tube. You have come together on the tube because you all want to go the same way. Why do such different people meet together in Christian church? What connects us? It is our shared trust in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus says he is building his church (Matthew 16:18).

What are some implications for us? Here are five:

1. So often what we call ‘church’ is a building made of wood or bricks or stone. That is not the church that Jesus is building. Jesus is making a gathering of people around him. We should look after our church building; keep it clean, maintain it. But our greater concern should not be for the building but for the people who meet. Some churches in hot countries meet in the shade of a tree. The Bible meaning of church is not a building, it is gathering of people.

2. So often what we call ‘church’ is not what the Bible means by it. Denominations (the Anglican Church or the Presbyterian Church) are not ‘churches’. They are organisations that help a number of churches. The real churches are the congregations or gatherings, where God’s people ‘assemble’. Denominations can be helpful, but they are not as important as the ‘church’ that Christ is drawing together.

3. We should try to keep the focus of church, of our meeting together, on what Jesus has done for his people and is doing to his people. In our songs and prayers and sermons and coffee time chat we should keep reminding each other of important things: The great work Jesus has done to rescue us; the way he wants us to get on with each other; that we must be looking forward and getting ready for the day he comes to judge all humans.

4. We can expect our local church to be a letdown. Why? Because it is a gathering of others with sin in their life just like me. Sin will show itself in selfishness, in laziness, in refusal to treat each other as God wants. All those things mean that church will be a letdown. We should not be surprised when it is a letdown. But we should be working to try to join in church in the way Jesus wants.

5. Jesus is building his church. What is he using? People who come to him. You may have been in church meetings for years, but you are not part of the church if you are not a Christian. Being a church-goer does not make you a Christian, but being a Christian should make you a church-goer, because you want to submit to Christ and meet with his people. You may be a person who should spend more effort on helping the church and not just ‘attend church’. How can you help out?

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The meaning of ‘church’ – not a religious word
In Acts 19:32 Luke, the writer, tells us the assembly, is in confusion – who is this about? Look at v28. This is the Ephesian crowds. In Ephesus silversmiths who made models of false gods are worried because of the Christian preachers. They start a commotion, the whole city gathers or assembles. The gathering is called ‘the church’. But it is not translated church ….because a religious meaning is given to church today. They are called the church again in v41. The same word is used in verse 39 – ‘a legal church’. The Bible word that is translated ‘church’ in other places is not a religious word for Christians meeting. It simply means ‘gathering’ or ‘assembly’.

Bible Readings in dates till April 2018

Date (2018) Passage
7th January, John 13 vv1-30
14th January, John 13 vv31-35
21st January, John 13 vv36- 14v14
28th January, John 14 vv15-31
4th February, John 15 vv1-18
11th February, John 15 vv19-25
18th February, John 16 vv1-15
25th February, John 16 vv8-33
4th March,
11th March, John 17 vv1-26
18th March,
25th March, John 18 vv1-27
29th March, John 18 vv28-19v16
30th March, John 19 vv17-42
1st April, John 20 vv1-31

No weapon fashioned against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54 verse 17)

This is God’s word. This is God’s promise. So when a brother is killed by thieves with a weapon – what does it mean? Does it mean the man was not a brother after all? Or does it mean that God’s promise has failed?
God makes many promises in the Bible.

• Some he has already kept. He promised Abraham a son. Abraham’s wife gave birth to a son.
• Some promises He is keeping now. He promised Abraham to bless people of all nations. Today, people of all nations are being blessed through Jesus.
• Some promises God will keep in the future. He promises a future with no more death or mourning or crying or pain. We live in hope for that future.

How can we tell which kind a promise is? How can we tell if it is a promise for us now? Other parts of the Bible tell us. We read God’s promise of a son to Abraham in Genesis 17. We read the promise kept in Genesis 21. We read the promise of blessing to all nations in Genesis 12. Galatians 3 tells us that the promise is coming true for all who trust Jesus. The Bible interprets the Bible. That is why we need to read our Bibles and be taught by teachers who are careful to read it well.
Which kind of promise is Isaiah 54:17? Already kept, being kept now or to be kept in the future?

In Isaiah 54:11-17, God is speaking to the Old Testament people about the future for Jerusalem. It is described in beautiful, lavish terms. This is the situation when God’s people will enjoy safety and peace and no weapon will prevail against them. God repeats this promise about Jerusalem when he talks of the new creation at the end of Revelation 21. It is still in the future for us. In this life, we are not safe from weapons. In Acts, we read that Stephen is killed by stoning (chapter 7) and James executed with a sword (chapter 12). God’s promise about safety from weapons will only be kept in the new creation, with the New Jerusalem.

What do we do when God makes promises?
Promises ask us to trust the person making the promise and act on our trust. If you say you will meet me at church at 10 a.m., I show that I trust you by turning up at 10 a.m. If I say I trust you but just sit at home saying to myself, they said they would be there, do I really trust you? It is the same with God’s promises. God promises to forgive those who confess they are sinners. I show I trust him if I confess I am a sinner and ask for forgiveness. If I say I trust him but just say to myself, ‘he forgives’ but never confess and never ask forgiveness, do I really trust him?

God has not promised protection from physical enemies in this life. We should take sensible precautions, we lock our doors at night, as far as possible, we seek to live at peace with all people, but he does not promise we will always be safe.
But God has promised protection from spiritual enemies, from Satan. ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you’ (James 4:7). This is a promise of God. But how do we resist? How do show we trust God’s way of protection? The Bible explains the Bible: ‘Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes’ (Ephesians 6:10). How do show we trust God? By using God’s defences. The devil’s language is lies. We stay safe by hearing and speaking the truth from God. The devil accuses. We stay safe by trusting that Jesus has dealt with our guilt. The devil sows discord and division. We stay safe by welcoming other sinners who are forgiven like us.