Sermons

Matthew 7:24-29

Watch, listen to or download this sermon I gave last Sunday.

Some notes and cool quotes from the sermon:

Most of us have been educated way beyond the level of our obedience. It’s not about being biblically literate but biblically obedient…

Is your life built on rock? Not feelings… “Believe God’s Word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it is not the Rock which ebbs and flows, but your sea.” (Samuel Rutherford)

“The waters are raging and the winds are blowing but I have no fear for I stand firmly upon a rock. What am I to fear? Is it death? Life to me means Christ and death is gain. Is it exile? The earth and everything it holds belongs to the Lord. Is it loss of property? I brought nothing into this world and I will bring nothing out of it. I have only contempt for the world and its ways and I scorn its honours.” Chrysostom’s last sermon which led to his exile.

The thing is, you can’t fake good foundations long-term – there’s a mixture of anger and sadness at high-profile leaders whose lives come crashing down – whether you’ve built your life on metaphorical rock or sand will sooner or later come to light. The foundation’s fragility or solidity is a reality whatever the outward appearance… a sandcastle is easy to build, but washes away with the next incoming tide.

Have we cheated or are we cheating in taking shortcuts with our integrity, our viewing habits, our ill-discipline in affairs of the heart, our spiritual apathy and disengagement, our lack of self-scrutiny in terms of spending patterns, use of time, loose-talking, viewing habits, wandering eyes, jealousy, greed, laziness, vulgarity, pride, judgmentalism?

As Dallas Willard so astutely pointed out, the cost of discipleship is high, but the cost of non-discipleship is even higher. Discipleship in that sense is a bargain: “Non-discipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God’s overriding governance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, non-discipleship costs you exactly the abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring.”

One day an expert in time management was speaking to a group of business students and, to drive home a point, used an illustration those students will never forget.

As this man stood in front of the group of high-powered overachievers he said, “Okay, time for a quiz.” Then he pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed mason jar and set it on a table in front of him.  Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the class said, “Yes.”

Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing piece of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.  Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him.

“Probably not,” one of them answered.  “Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!”

Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.  Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

What are the ‘big rocks’ in your life? Time with your loved ones? Your faith, your education, your dreams? A worthy cause? Teaching or mentoring others?

Remember to put these big rocks in first or you’ll never get them in the jar at all. And of course, over and above that, Jesus is the ultimate Big Rock, around which everything else will fit appropriately. 

“We are at war, and the bloody battle is over our hearts. I am astounded how few Christians see this, how little they protect their hearts. We act as though we live in a sleepy little town during peacetime. We don’t. We live in the spiritual equivalent of Bosnia or Beirut. Act like it. Watch over your heart. Don’t let just anything in; don’t let it go just anywhere. What’s this going to do to my heart? is a question that I ask in every situation.” (John Eldredge)

Mike Mason in The Mystery of Marriage on himself in courtship: “A 30-year-old man is like a densely populated city. Nothing can be built… without something else being torn down. To grow effectively, we must realize that we cannot build before we have properly excavated, like a massive skyscraper at the base going deep.”

Smith Wigglesworth gave this challenge to Christians: “Live ready. If you have to get ready when the opportunity comes your way, you’ll be too late. Opportunity doesn’t wait, not even while you pray. You must not have to get ready, you must live ready at all times.

Be filled with the Spirit; that is, be soaked with the Spirit. Be so soaked that every thread in the fabric of your life will have received the requisite rule of the Spirit – then when you are misused and squeezed to the wall, all that will ooze out of you will be the nature of Christ.”

Sermons

So I’ve been in the USA preaching this week, and felt led to this passage, which is not what a visiting speaker would usually choose if he wanted to get invited back! 

What a passage! Just 9 verses, which include one of the worst and one of the best five verses in the whole Bible (which has 31,102 in total). I started with a few questions to reflect on, but you’ll need to listen to it to get the full impact:

Listen to the audio or download here:

“So I want to start with a question, a crucial question: What do you think about God? Because that’s the most important thing about you.

How much do you want of God? Because nobody has less of God than they want…

How close to God do you want to be? Because you will be as close to God as you want…

You see, if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you (James 4:8). You can have as much of God as you want, and can be as close to Him as you want, but many of us have the wrong conception of God. So we don’t want that much of Him and don’t want Him too close, rather holding Him at arms’ length, having a relationship with Him on our terms, keeping Him in the passenger seat whilst we drive where we want to go. And there’s shocking imagery in this passage that, if you have the wrong conception of God, will only make things worse…”

Sermons

Here is a talk I gave yesterday on being made in the image of God. Below is some of the material I shared:

Some guests were visiting an orphanage and shared the Christmas story with the children for their first time ever. They sat, enthralled, and were then given materials to re-create the manger scene. All was going to plan until one of the visitors spotted six-year-old Abu’s efforts – he had put two babies in the manger. He was asked to repeat the story, and he did so perfectly until the end when he made up his own version. 

He went on: “And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had anywhere to stay. I told him both my mamma and my papa are dead, so I didn’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him that wasn’t possible, because I didn’t have a present to give him like everybody else did… But I so wanted to stay with Jesus that I wondered if there was anything at all of mine I could offer him as a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift. So I asked Jesus: ‘If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?’ And Jesus told me: ‘If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.’ So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him – for always.” 

As little Abu finished his story, his eyes filled up with tears. He then slumped down on the table and began sobbing deeply. This precious little orphan had found someone at last who would never abandon him or let him down, someone who would stay with him – as he put it – for always.

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.

It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people.

You have never talked to a mere mortal.

Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat.

But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.

C.S. Lewis: —The Weight of Glory (HarperOne, 2001), pp. 45-46

Wow! That’ll change how you treat yourself, and your neighbour. Respect, dignity, honour…

Michael Parkinson once asked Dawn French during an interview what had given her her self-esteem and confidence in herself. She replied:

“I’ve tried to wonder what it was that gave me confidence from early on, and I can only put it down to my Dad. I remember that there was a night when I was going to go out to a disco, and I was really ready to have sex with anybody who wanted to ask me. I had some purple suede hot pants that I thought I looked great in. And my father called me into his office and sat me down, and I thought, “I’m going to get the lecture, blah blah.” And instead of giving me a lecture about what time to be home or any of that he just said to me, “you are the most precious thing in our lives and you are beautiful, and you are worthy of anybody who shows you any attention. You shouldn’t feel grateful for the scraps that any other girls leave behind: you should have the best.” And I went out, and in fact no boy came within ten yards of me! I wouldn’t allow them because they were beneath me. He just gave me a bit of self-esteem.”

Now this talk is about much more than self-esteem, although the lack of self-esteem is a feature of our broken society and culture. Hear this powerful story from a very different society and culture:

Johnny Lingo lived on the island of Nurabi, and he was one of the richest men in all the islands.  He got that way because he was a smart trader.  And Johnny Lingo was in love with Surita, who lived on the neighbouring Island of Kiriwadi.

If you were kind, you would call Surita “plain.”

Now on the island of Kiriwadi, they had a tradition, that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would go to the woman’s father and bargain for the woman by offering a number of cows.  The average woman on Kiriwadi went for 4 cows; the most beautiful woman on Kiriwadi had gone for 6 cows.

Sam Korad, the father of Surita, had decided he was going to ask for 2 cows for Surita, but that he would accept one.

On the day of the trading, all the people of both islands gathered to watch.  This was the social event of the year.  And imagine their surprise when Johnny Lingo offered Sam Korad EIGHT COWS for Surita!  Everyone said, “He’s mad!  He’s blind!  Why would a man – a smart trader – offer eight cows for a woman he could have married for one?”

Well, here’s the reason.  They got married, and in 6 months Surita had become the most beautiful woman in all the islands.

She had been given value.  And she blossomed.

We all have the same value in the eyes of Jesus Christ.  He paid exactly the same price for you and for me as he paid for Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or Simon Peter..

We are all eight cow saints.  And so is everyone around you. The value of something or someone is determined by the cost someone is willing to pay, and God was willing to pay with the blood of his only Son, so that shows how much we are worth.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13,14

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his (Eliab) appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1 Samuel 16:7
BlogSermonsSimon Blog

Today’s talk is the fifth in a series given recently at Lee Abbey.

  1. Come to me Weary!
  2. Come to me Dirty!
  3. Come to me Hungry!
  4. Come to me Thirsty!
  5. Come and See, then Go and Be!

Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:

You won’t have heard of Edward Kimball. This man was becoming increasingly active in church and wanted to make an impact with the youth. His constant refrain was ‘come and see’. There was one lad he saw great potential in but just wasn’t able get through to. In the end, Kimball just decided to go the shoe store where the young man worked. Kimball found him in the back of the store wrapping shoes. Nervously he put his hand on his shoulder and started sharing a brief gospel message. It was short and to the point: Christ loves you and all He asks is for you to accept that, and for you to love Him in return. With that Kimball was gone. As things turned out that young lad did accept Christ. He was D.L. Moody, who became an amazing evangelist.

Years later at one of Moody’s revivals, a man by the name of Wilbur Chapman was invited along by friends to come and see what all the fuss was about, and he accepted God’s direction for his life. Chapman also became an evangelist, preaching to thousands.

One dynamic sportsman chose to come and see Chapman preaching – none other than the professional baseball player Billy Sunday, who not only desired to follow Christ, but quit his career and joined Chapman in his travels. As time went on Chapman led some big outreaches with the help of Mordecai Ham, another man whose life was transformed by Christ. Soon afterwards, Mordecai found himself in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Meantime, Albert McMakin was a 24-year-old farmer who had come to faith in Christ. He was so full of enthusiasm that he filled a truck with people and took them to a meeting where Mordecai Ham was preaching. He wanted them all to come and see what was going on, and to hear about Jesus. There was a farmer friend’s son whom he especially wanted to get to the meetings, but this young man was hard to persuade. He was busy falling in and out of love with different girls and didn’t seem to be interested at all. Eventually, McMakin managed to persuade him to come by asking him to drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert’s guest decided to go in. He was spellbound and began to have thoughts he had never known before. He went back again and again until one night he went forward and gave his life to Jesus Christ. That young man, the driver of the truck, was Billy Graham. The year was 1934. The rest is history.

We can all be like McMakin and bring people to Jesus.

“…and Andrew brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:42) We don’t hear much more about Andrew except that he was always bringing people to Jesus. “Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:8,9) “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.” (John 12:20-22)

Indeed we don’t hear much more about Andrew in the Bible – he was the first disciple, a fisherman from Bethsaida, and privileged to be in on the action with Jesus; and apparently, he was crucified on 30 November 60AD, by order of the Roman governor Aegeas. He was tied to an X-shaped cross in Greece, and this has been represented by the white cross on the Scottish flag, the Saltire, since at least 1385. He’s the patron Saint of Scotland, but also Greece, Russia and Barbados!

So we don’t have much information on him really, but Simon Peter, his brother, went on to be one of the greatest influences in the history of Christianity. We cannot all be Simon Peters, but we can all do what Andrew did – we can bring people to Jesus.

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Today’s talk is the fourth in a series given recently at Lee Abbey.

  1. Come to me Weary!
  2. Come to me Dirty!
  3. Come to me Hungry!
  4. Come to me Thirsty!

Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:

“Lord, please put salt on my lips that I might thirst more after you.”

Augustine


The revival on Lewis (1949-1952) was steeped in prayer. Seven men and two old ladies had decided to pray and not stop until God visited them in a powerful way. One night, at a prayer meeting held in a barn, one of them said, “It seems to me just so much sentimental humbug to be praying as we are praying, to be waiting as we are waiting here, if we ourselves are not rightly related to God.” He asked God to reveal if his own hands were clean and his own heart was pure. Suddenly God’s awesome presence swept the barn. They came to see that there was a direct correlation between revival and holiness. A power was let loose that night that shook the island. A man arrived and felt compelled to go to church and get right with God. People had visions in their own homes.  

Duncan Campbell had been preaching at a conference in Bangor, Northern Ireland. He was due to stand up and preach when the Lord told him to leave immediately and go to Lewis. He told the man who had invited him that he simply had to go. Arriving as soon as he could in Lewis, he found that they were all waiting for him!  The stories are truly extraordinary.

Campbell shares: “Over 100 young people were at the dance in the parish hall and they weren’t thinking of God or eternity. They were there to have a good night when suddenly the power of God fell upon the dance. The music ceased and in a matter of minutes, the hall was empty. They fled from the hall as a man fleeing from a plague. And they made for the church. They are now standing outside. Oh, yes – they saw lights in the church. That was a house of God and they were going to it and they went. Men and women who had gone to bed rose, dressed, and made for the church. 

At another meeting, “suddenly, the power of God fell upon the congregation. Of course in Lewis and in other islands of the Hebrides, they stand to pray, they sit to sing. And now, one side of the church threw their hands up like this. Threw their heads back and you would almost declare that they were in an epileptic fit, but they were not. Oh, I can’t explain it. And the other side they slumped on top of each other. But God, the Holy Ghost moved. Those who had their hands like this stayed that way for two hours. Now you try to remain like that with your hands up for a few minutes and you will find it hard – but you would break their hands before you could take them down. Now, I can’t explain it – this is what happened. But the most remarkable thing that night was what took place in a village seven miles away from the church. There wasn’t a single person from that village in the church. Not one single person. Seven miles away, the power of God swept through the village. Swept through the village and I know it to be a fact that there wasn’t a single house in the village that hadn’t a soul saved in it.” 

The stories go on: “A schoolmaster that night looking over his papers 15 miles away from this island on the mainland suddenly was gripped by the fear of God. And he said to his wife, “Wife, I don’t know what’s drawing me to Barvas, but I must go.” His wife said, “But it’s nearly 10 o’clock and you’re thinking of going to Barvas. I know what’s on your mind, I know that you are going out to drink and you are not leaving this house tonight!” That was what she said to him – he was a hard drinker. And he said to his wife, “I may be mistaken, oh, I maybe mistaken, but if I know anything at all about my own heart and mind, I say to you now that drink will never touch my lips again.” And she said to him, “Well, John, if that’s your mind, then go to Barvas.” And he got someone to take him to the ferry, someone to ferry him across, and I was conducting a meeting in a farmhouse at midnight and this schoolmaster came to the door and they made room for him and in a matter of minutes he was praising God for salvation. Now that’s miracle. I mean you cannot explain it in any other way.” 

Campbell came for ten days but stayed for two years.

In 1940, Professor Edwin Orr of Wheaton University led a group of theology students to England, where they visited sites of great revivals. One location was the Epworth rectory, the part-time home of John Wesley, a famous reformer who led a spiritual renewal movement in the 1700s. As a man of prayer, Wesley interceded for revival to sweep through England, and to spread to America as well. Dr. Orr pointed out two worn places on the carpet next to Wesley’s bed, where the great reformer knelt for hours in prayer each day, crying out for revival.

As the tour concluded, the students loaded the bus. After counting them, Orr noticed one was missing. He returned to the house, and eventually located the lost student in John Wesley’s bedroom— kneeling on the worn impressions where Wesley had fervently prayed for revival. The student was repeatedly pleading, “Do it again, Lord! Do it again… And would you do it again with me.”

Placing his hand on the young man’s shoulder Orr said, “Son, it’s time to leave. Everyone’s on the bus.” The student slowly rose, and then that young man… Billy Graham… joined the rest of his class… and through him, God did it again! Why? Because Billy Graham was thirsty for God and passionate to see God bring revival, as in days past.

In Habakkuk 3:2, the prophet expressed that same longing. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day.” Like Billy Graham, his cry was: “Do it again, Lord!”

Deep inside, doesn’t your heart resonate with the same longing, that same thirst? Aren’t you tired of just reading about revival? I want to see God move powerfully— supernaturally, in our day as He did in the past. Our world is upside down. Besides COVID, racial tensions, climate disasters, we all face a plethora of personal problems. Only a move of God can save us. When we cry out, God hears us.

What would happen if we were bold enough to ask God to “Do it again?”

Let’s make a deal. How about every day we kneel in prayer as Billy Graham did; as John Wesley did; as Habakkuk did? Let’s cry out from our hearts those same words, “Do it again, Lord!” Then watch God move.  

(Sources from the Devotional by Dave DeSelm)

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Today’s talk is the third in a series given recently at Lee Abbey.

  1. Come to me Weary!
  2. Come to me Dirty!
  3. Come to me Hungry!

Here are a few juicy bits if you haven’t the time to listen:

George Orwell described a wasp that “was sucking jam on my plate and I cut him in half.  He paid no attention, merely went on with his meal, while a tiny stream of jam trickled out of his severed oesophagus. Only when he tried to fly away did he grasp the dreadful thing that had happened to him.” The wasp and people without Christ have much in common.  Severed from their souls, but greedy and unaware, many people continue to consume life’s sweetness. Only when it’s time to fly away will they grasp their dreadful condition.

‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”’

John 6:35


There is a hunger deep within the human heart. The leading psychologists of recent times have all recognised this. Freud said, “People are hungry for love.” Jung said, “People are hungry for security.” Adler said, “People are hungry for significance.” Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” In other words, if you want your hunger satisfied come to me, I am the source of true love, security and significance.

Professor Joad, who was converted from atheism to Christ said, “Trying to find happiness from this world is like trying to light up a dark room by lighting a succession of matches. You strike one, it flickers for a moment, and then it goes out. But when you find Jesus Christ, it’s as though the whole room is suddenly flooded with light.”

So let’s be honest, some questions to reflect on:

Am I hungry? If yes, how hungry? Maybe even before that – Hungry for what?

Power, peace, recognition, vindication, acceptance, validation, escape, anonymity, breakthrough, hope, success? Some of those are better than others; whatever the case, they are our reality. Jesus deals with our reality. And he says come to Me, you will be filled, I will satisfy your hunger, I am the bread of life.

John Piper wrote: “If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

How much do you want of God?…

…because no one has less of God than they want.

D.L.Moody was perhaps the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. The encounter he had with the Holy Spirit in New York transformed his ministry. After one service, two old ladies called Mrs Cooke and Mrs Hawkhurst approached him and told him, “You are good, but you haven’t got it… we have been praying for you… you need power!” Moody, an already well-respected minister, was unimpressed. “I need power?” asked Moody. “Why, I thought I had power!”

The ladies poured out their hearts that he might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost and soon there grew a great hunger in his soul. “I felt I did not want to live any longer if I had not this power for service.”

There began a period of deep spiritual hunger and desperation, of six months’ pleading with God for more. “I began to cry as never before for a greater blessing from God. The hunger increased; I really felt that I did not want to live any longer. I kept on crying all the time that God would fill me with His Spirit. Well, one day in the City of New York – oh! What a day, I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it. It is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say, God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.”

He was never the same again. Although his sermons and doctrine had not changed, his effectiveness in winning thousands to Christ was evidence of this new power.

Walter Lewis Wilson was an American doctor born towards the end of the nineteenth century. He was a faithful Christian who often hosted visiting missionaries to his church. One visitor from France didn’t mince words, asking him, “Who is the Holy Spirit to you?” Wilson’s answer was doctrinally correct, “One of the Persons of the Godhead… Teacher, Guide, Third Person of the Trinity.” But it was an empty and rehearsed response. His friend pushed him harder, challenging him, “You haven’t answered my question.” Wilson opened up with real candour, “He’s nothing to me. I have no contact with him and could get along without him.” There was no spiritual hunger, rather resigned acceptance of going through the motions.

The following year, Wilson listened to a sermon at church from Romans 12 on the challenge to offer his body as a living sacrifice. The preacher called out from the pulpit, “Have you noticed that this verse doesn’t tell us to Whom we should give our bodies? It’s not the Lord Jesus. He has his own body. It’s not the Father. He remains on his throne. Another has come to earth without a body. God gives you the indescribable honour of presenting your bodies to the Holy Spirit, to be his dwelling place on earth.”

Wilson was struck to the core and rushed home to seek the Lord. So hungry for an encounter with the Lord. He fell on his face and pleaded with the Lord, “My Lord, I’ve treated you like a servant. When I wanted you, I called for you. Now I give you this body from my head to my feet. I give you my hands, my limbs, my eyes and lips, my brain. You may send this body to Africa, or lay it on a bed with cancer. It’s your body from this moment on.”

The next morning, Wilson was working in his office when two ladies arrived, trying to sell him advertising. He immediately led them to Christ. The previous night’s surrender had enabled him to access new power from on high. From that day onwards, his life entered a new dimension of evangelistic fruitfulness. He went on to pioneer a church plant, a mission organisation, and a Bible College, as well as becoming a best-selling author.

Do you want to be entrusted with that same power from the Holy Spirit? Well, who is the Holy Spirit to you? And how hungry are you? Like the early Wilson, can you get along perfectly well without him? Or are you truly willing to offer him your body as a living sacrifice, without conditions or caveats? There’s so much more power that I want to plug into for God’s glory. But will I trust him for every aspect of my life? Will I “consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3v8)? These are big, big questions. Here’s inviting you to total surrender, to deep hunger.

The members of the Punjab Prayer Union (John ‘Praying’ Hyde amongst them), who experienced revival in their midst, signed the following declaration to become members. It was in the form of questions:

  1. Are you praying for quickening in your own life, in the life of your fellow-workers, and in the Church?
  2. Are you longing for greater power of the Holy Spirit in your own life and work, and are you convinced that you cannot go on without this power?
  3. Will you pray that you may not be ashamed of Jesus?
  4. Do you believe that prayer is the great means for securing this spiritual awakening?
  5. Will you set apart one half-hour each day as soon after noon as possible to pray for this awakening, and are you willing to pray till the awakening comes?

GeneralSermonsSimon Blog

Do you feel worthy of God’s love, or unworthy?

It’s an important question. Lots of people live under guilt and shame, which is no way to do life.

You see, we may be undeserving of God’s grace but we are certainly not unworthy. Because our worth is defined or measured by what Someone is willing to pay for us. And Jesus showed us just how valuable we are on the cross, didn’t he? He settled the matter there.

Below is the second in a series of talks given a few weeks ago at Lee Abbey.

The first was ‘Come to Me Weary’. 

The second one is ‘Come to Me Dirty’, which can be listened to or downloaded here.

Below are a few things that I shared which if you haven’t got time to listen you could read:

As sinners, we’re all guilty, but we shouldn’t live under shame. The voice of shame will tell us that what we’ve done wrong defines us, that we are our sin, or that we are the sins of others around or before us. Guilt usually involves something we did: I did something bad; whereas shame involves who we are: I am bad. When we break God’s laws, we should feel (healthily) guilty, and then deal with the guilt. But that healthy conviction is often quickly joined by shame. And where guilt says, “You did something wrong,” shame says, “That’s why you’re no good, there’s no hope for you, flee, live in darkness, you need to hide.” Remember in the garden of Eden, at the end of Genesis 2, they were naked and felt no shame (v25), but immediately after the fall in Genesis 3 they knew they were naked and hid in shame.

Guilt’s role is to convict. Shame’s role is to condemn. Guilt’s job is to drive you towards the cross. Shame’s job is to drive you away from the cross. Shame demands that we cover up, hide our sin, and fake it. Another word for shame is disgrace. God’s antidote to shame – or disgrace – is His grace.

Paul wrote in Romans 7:24,25 “What a wretched man I man! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Johnny Lingo lived on the island of Nurabi, and he was one of the richest men in all the islands.  He got that way because he was a smart trader.  And Johnny Lingo was in love with Surita, who lived on the neighbouring Island of Kiriwadi.

If you were kind, you would call Surita ‘plain’.

Now on the island of Kiriwadi, they had a tradition, that when a man wanted to marry a woman, he would go to the woman’s father and bargain for the woman by offering a number of cows.  The average woman on Kiriwadi went for 4 cows; the most beautiful woman on Kiriwadi had gone for 6 cows.

Sam Korad, the father of Surita, had decided he was going to ask for 2 cows for Surita, but that he would accept one.

On the day of the trading, the people of both islands gathered to watch.  This was the social event of the year.  And imagine their surprise when Johnny Lingo offered Sam Korad eight cows for Surita!  Everyone said, “He’s mad!  He’s blind!  Why would a man – a smart trader – offer eight cows for a woman he could have married for one?”

Well, here’s the reason.  They got married, and in 6 months Surita had become the most beautiful woman in all the islands.

She had been given value.  And she blossomed.

We all have the same value in the eyes of Jesus Christ.  He paid exactly the same price for you and for me as he paid for Billy Graham or Mother Theresa or Simon Peter. 

You are an eight-cow saint.  And so is everyone around you.

1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

A new convert approached Watchman Nee in deep anguish of soul, saying: “No matter how much I pray, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot seem to be faithful to my Lord.  I think I’m losing my salvation.” Watchman Nee replied: “Do you see this dog here? He is my dog. He is house-trained; he never makes a mess; he is obedient; he is a pure delight to me. Out in the kitchen I have a son, a baby son. He throws his food around, he fouls his clothes, he’s a total mess. But who is going to inherit my kingdom? Not my dog. My son is my heir! And you are Jesus Christ’s heir because it is for you that He died.”

That’s the truth! So come to him today, however dirty you may feel!

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people rushing past the gates of buckingham palac

Back in 2017, I received an invitation from the Queen to join her at Buckingham Palace. I turned her down.

Why?

Because I’d already heard her on the radio. I’d read her written messages. I’d seen her on TV plenty of times.

That was enough for me.

Seriously?

Of course not! Lizzie and I went there with a great sense of privilege, anticipation and honour, and had a wonderful time.

Now, what is on offer today, to all of us, is not a personal invitation from the Sovereign of a nation, rather one from the Sovereign of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

So below is the first of five talks given last week under the theme title ‘Come!’ I’ll post each one week by week if you want to take a listen. They were given at Lee Abbey, one of my favourite places, in North Devon. You could join us next year if you wanted. The series was as follows:

1. Come to me Weary!
2. Come to me Dirty!
3. Come to me Hungry!
4. Come to me Thirsty!
5. Come and See, then Go and Be!

Here is the first:

Here are just a few bits if you haven’t the time to listen:

Father Thomas Green suggested this prayer: “Lord let me be just as disturbed about this situation (or this person’s behaviour) as you are – no more and no less. If you are angry let me be angry too, but if you are not disturbed let me share your peace.” He continues: “It is amazing and quite humbling how often my disturbance simply dissolves once I say that prayer and really mean it.”

As Corrie Ten Boom put it ‘worry does not empty tomorrow of sorrow; but it empties today of strength.’

Stress management experts say that only two percent of our “worrying time” is spent on things that might actually be helped by worrying. The figures below illustrate how the other 98 percent of this time is spent:

40% on things that never happen
35% on things that can’t be changed
15% on things that turn out better than expected
8% on useless, petty worries

Dallas Willard talks about the secret of an easy yolk, which is that if you want to experience the life of Jesus, you have to adopt the lifestyle of Jesus. Following Jesus is meant to involve living his way, it’s a lifestyle, a way of life, not just a set of ideas or a program or a list of commands or prohibitions.

Some years ago in British Columbia a young man looking for work approached a foreman of a logging crew and asked him for a job. “It depends,” replied the foreman “lets see you take this one down.” The young man stepped forward, and skillfully felled a great tree. The foreman was impressed and explained, “you can start on Monday!”.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rolled by. Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today”.

Startled, the young man asked, “I thought you paid on Fridays”, “Normally we do” answered the foreman, “but we are letting you go today because you have fallen behind. Our daily charts show that you have dropped from first place on Monday to last place on Wednesday”. “But I’m a hard worker”, the young man objected, “I arrive first, leave last, and I’ve even worked through my coffee breaks!”. The foreman sensing the boy’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your axe?”, the young man replied, “Well, no, Sir. I have been working too hard to take the time.”

How about you? Too busy to sharpen your axe?  Prayer is the hone that gives you the sharp edge.  Without prayer, the more work you do the duller you will get.  We need to take time to stay sharp as we go about our work – and see our work as God’s work, in whatever sphere!


A little plug for Lee Abbey, do you want to join us next year?!

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In a talk for a local church last Sunday, I was asked to look at this passage and the question Jesus asks of His disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ If you agree with what Peter answered then the implications are huge. Do take a listen.

You can also listen to the sermon or download the audio recording.

Some Quotes

Oswald Chambers: Is God going to help himself to me, or am I so taken up of my conception of what I want to make of my life?

CS Lewis: “Anything which isn’t eternal is eternally out of date”

My friend wrote this to me: “I long to preach and dispel the myth that is so readily received that ‘it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re successful, have fun, and have Jesus’. What a total lie of the evil one! It’s making our generation inept for the gospel.”

The young Zimbabwean martyr: “I am part of the ‘Fellowship of the Unashamed.’ I have the Holy Spirit. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ… I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until Heaven returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.”

What’s your answer to Jesus’ question – who do you say I am?

SermonsSimon Blog

I invite you to listen to this last Sunday’s sermon, it’ll challenge you to the core! We had a powerful time…

Watch the sermon:

Listen to the sermon below or download here.


Jim Wallis writes: “The danger of secular fundamentalism is its allergy to spirituality and disdain for anything religious. Prophetic religion is the antidote to bad religion. Prophetic faith is not the battle between secularism and faith, but rather between cynicism and hope. Prophets begin in judgment, social critique of status quo, but end in hope – that those realities can be changed. It’s a spiritual choice. Ultimately, cynicism protects you from commitment. If things are not really going to change, why try so hard to make a difference? And if you have middle-class economic security (as many cynics do), things don’t have to change for you to remain secure. That is not intended to sound harsh, just realistic. Cynics are finally free just to look after themselves… Perhaps the only people who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints. Everybody else may be living in some kind of denial about what is really going on and how things really are. And the only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power, and possibility of hope… Hope is not a feeling; it is a decision. And the decision for hope is based on what you believe at the deepest levels. You choose hope, not as a naïve wish, but as a choice, with your eyes wide open to the reality of the world – just like the cynics who have not made the decision for hope.”

Remember if we want to receive the Kingdom of God, we HAVE to be child-like (not childish). The stakes are high…

Here’s a little checklist for you to assess how you’re getting on.:

Needy and dependent v self-sufficient and independent

Humble and teachable v proud and having the answers

Curious v indifferent

Joyful v serious

Forgiving v resentful

Faith-filled v sceptical

Pliable v brittle 

Hopeful v cynical

Secure v doubting self

Trusting v fearful

Sermon notes available on request.