Sermons by John Spranklin
Psalm 96 is a psalm of praise to God. Beginning with God’s own people, and ending with all creation, the Lord is to be exalted. David sang the words of this psalm in excited anticipation of God’s coming with the Ark to Jerusalem. We sing these words as we anticipate Jesus’ coming again when he will finally defeat sin and death forever.
Like us, the readers of Peter’s letter were living in a society that was unbelieving and antagonistic to the gospel. These Christians needed encouraging to persevere. As God’s church, they exist together not just to survive until Jesus’ return, but God has given them a specific identity and purpose. We share this purpose as God’s church today – to grow, to worship and to witness. 1 Peter 2:1-10
A bride and groom approach their wedding day full anticipation, excitement, hopes and dreams. It’s a happy day, and they hope for a happy marriage. Whether we’re already married, hoping to be married one day, or considering a lifetime unmarried, we tend to assume God created marriage for the sake of personal happiness. Companionship, sexual intimacy, children and other things marriage brings might make us happy to some extent, but as we read the Bible it seems that God has other priorities for marriage. So we ask: “Why did God create marriage?” and “What should our purpose be within marriage?”
The society we live in loves money and exalts greed. We seem to be getting richer and richer and yet are not satisfied. We each seem to love money differently – some for the pleasure we can get from spending it, some for the freedom it offers, some for the security it brings and some for the power and success it grants us. It seems that many Christians are not too different to the society we live in. Greed tells us many lies. Come to the Bible to find out what God really says about things like thankfulness, contentment, generosity and serving God when it comes to our money.
Family is wonderful, but even at its best, family life is challenging. The family is spoken of as the foundation of our society, but now it seems to be under threat from our western culture. There seem to be cracks in the foundation. Come to the Bible to find the nature, purpose and value of family. We discover that the family does have a future as we delight in doing family well, for the glory of God.
Anyone who has heard of Jesus has made some kind of response to him. In chapter 11 of Matthew’s Gospel we start to see rising opposition to Jesus as some people are looking for the wrong kind of Messiah and some are blatantly unrepentant. Jesus offers forgiveness and true rest to those who respond rightly to him – in repentance and faith. We do well to ask ourselves: “How am I responding to Jesus – for salvation, and daily as…
Too many Christians today start their journey of faith well – full of passion, enthusiasm and energy, but then somewhere along the journey they slowly drift away from faith. This is also a fairly accurate description of many within the Corinthian church at the time Paul is writing the letter of 2 Corinthians. In this passage he writes to them of the priority of continually strengthening their faith. This has been the primary purpose of Paul’s ministry to them. The…
Jesus is presented with a paralysed man. He sees his faith, but instead of healing him, as we expect, his first move is to forgive his sins. To claim to have the authority to forgive sin is a massive claim – a claim to divine authority. Jesus finally and emphatically proves he has this authority by conquering sin on the cross. And this has massive implications for us. Each of us, and all of our sin, is forgivable through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. But do we live as though our greatest need is the forgiveness that Jesus offers? And do we witness as though other people’s greatest need is to be forgiven?
Israel is near the end of their journey from Sinai to the promised land. The have already conquered some of the lands to the east of the Jordan River and they are poised to cross over the Jordan and begin the conquest to take the promised land of Canaan on the western side of the river. Then some of the tribes make a suggestion which at first seems innocuous, but it has the potential to discourage the rest of God’s people away from pursuing God’s plan to enter the promised land. In our walk of faith, and we move towards the promised land of eternal life, there are similar temptations to compromise. We forget what we’re aiming at, what our destination is, and we fall short. Even when we don’t realise it, often our compromises discourage others. In order to reach our heavenly destination, we must beware of being too pragmatic (“If it works, it must be right!”) and instead test ‘good ideas’ against the clear instructions of Scripture. We must keep our eyes fixed on our eternal destination. And we must do everything to encourage others to get there too.
A promise made produces anticipation, excitement and hope. A promise kept is something that brings joy and fulfilment and creates trust. In Jesus’ birth God fulfils his promise to send a king for God’s people. The story of Jesus’ birth reveals that Jesus is a new king, he is a king who rescues, and he is king forever. He can rescue each of us from sin and death if we put our trust in him and make him our king. The is the promise of Christmas.