Free to be God's people

(Sun 16-Jun-2019)

First in a series on Philippians. Phil Barber, Potters Longton

Philippi was a city on the edge of Europe, controlling a pass between Europe and Asia. Colonised by Roman soldiers when they retired.

‘So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.’

Acts 16:11-15 ESV

The church at Philippi was probably the first church in Europe. Founded around Lydia, a wealthy businesswoman. Strict religious Jews (as Paul had been) would not associate with women outside their family. This church, led by Lydia, became close friends of Paul.

Paul normally starts his letters with credentials, authority. Philippians does not:

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:1‭-‬5 ESV

Much more informal, friendly tone.

Love and affection should be the hallmark of any Christian gathering. We fall out and disagree too often – and this is sin, failing to live as God instructs us to. Having love affection for each other displays God’s love to outsiders.

Love and affection make a big difference when we are struggling – and we all go through times with struggle and difficulty.

“A person with friends is never poor”

Friendship forms the heart of this letter.

Friendship is at the core of building the church.

The only successful way to build to church. Other forms of evangelism are only effective if there is a befriending process along with it. It is difficult to enter a church on your own as an outsider, so very few people do.
Revival comes from people being enthusiastic and sharing with their friends. The church in Lydia’s home became a group of friends that spanned classes and ages. They cared and provided for Paul, and almost certainly did for each other.

Friendship takes time and sacrificial investment to build.

Shared experiences are necessary and take time. We are slaves of Jesus Christ – we don’t have the right to quit where God has placed us. Stay in the place of service and sacrifice.

Friendships should be open.

No exclusive cliques or cold shoulders. Worshipping alongside her servants and slaves would have been strange and counter-cultural to Lydia. There is no status in the church. We are one, and all here because Jesus loves us – equally.

Treasure your friendships, make new ones, build them up. Use them for the kingdom. Thank God for them.



The Good Attitudes (beatitudes)

(Fri 1-Mar-2019)

Antony Clewes – Potters Longton

Give God not just our Sunday praise, but also our Monday praise, serving God every day.

Matthew 5-7 The Sermon on the Mount

God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7 NLT

Shamina Begum – how to respond?
“She’s made her bed, and now must lie in it”
“15 year old make mistakes”
Where is justice? Where is remorse? Where is mercy?

Forgiving someone who doesn’t deserve it – a situation we all find ourselves in. We will face injustice.

Offering forgiveness is the way of Christ, is the way of the cross.

How will work for us in our daily lives? Sometimes we have to make the first move, even when we’re the victim.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Ephesians 2:4‭-‬5 ESV

We have all needed, and received mercy from our master, to a far greater extent than we need to show. How can we expect mercy if we don’t live a merciful life? God demands we show mercy.

I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6 NLT

There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

James 2:13 NLT

Showing mercy will lead to happiness in your life. You benefit yourself when you show mercy to others. We need to act when we have a chance, even if it’s just a small act.

Compassion has now helped 2 million children since it was started in 1962 after a businessman saw street children in South Korea and wanted to do something to help.




(Mon 5-Mar-2018)

Lauren had me read from the Bible study she is working through at the moment. The main reading was Exodus 18 v1-27, in which Moses’ father-in-law Jethro visits and advises Moses to appoint people to help him with the work of resolving disputes – ‘“This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. ‘(Exodus 18:17 – 18 NLT) and additional readings from Deuteronomy 17 and Acts 6

The readings are all about seeking help, and sharing the work, not relying entirely on ourselves:

Don’t miss this: The concept of self-reliance is wholly foreign to the Christian faith. We are created to need God and others. We are designed for interdependence and community. There is no such thing as a Lone Ranger Christian. It matters that we understand this as we listen for the echo of our own story in that of Moses.

Self-reliance is so often held up as a goal we should all be aiming for and should all be able to achieve, but these passages show how Moses, other old-testament time leaders, and the apostles leading the early church not only needed, but were actively told to seek help from their communities.



The Nicene Creed

(Sun 3-Sep-2017)

What we believe and why we believe it.

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.

Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.

He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

How do we know? Where have we learnt the gospel from?

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.

Hebrews 3:1‭-‬3 ESV

Return continously to the Bible, to God’s word – his instruction, his advice, his songs, his story.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16‭-‬17 ESV

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:4‭-‬5 ESV

An early creed God’s people were instructed to learn and teach their children.

Nicene creed written by the early church at a conference in Nicea (in what is now Turkey) in response to a heresy that Jesus was not the divine son of God.

The achievements of an organisation is the result of the combined effort of every individual.

The church has never been perfect. It has been compromised for different things at different times. Hold on to the eternal standards.

Having a creed defines our faith

We know what we believe, have something to define and unify us.

Having a creed defends out faith

There are many cults and heresies still.

Having a creed declares our faith

We may be attacked for it, but we need to know what we believe in order to share it.

My creed is that to which I give my heart

William Sloane Coffin.

Be united as a church. Even more importantly, be united with a loving God, who wants a relationship.



Discipleship is...

(Sun 1-Feb-2015)

Lloyd Cook Potter’s House
Sermon recording

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6 v1-6 ESV

Our call as a church is to make disciples, not churchgoers, converts etc, so: what is a disciple?

  • Follower
  • Believer
  • Supporter
  • Student
  • Often about the hidden things; the test of a person’s faith is what they do in solitude, when no-one is watching

When you pray, when you fast, when you give.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 7 v21 ESV

Salvation is not by what we do, but following Christ does involve doing.

The call to discipleship has to be accepted as the norm for every Christian. And that has to begin with the understanding that we need to learn how to follow Jesus. It does not happen automatically. After all, unless we are convinced that discipleship is the core vocation of the church, it will stay as something that the keen ones, or the committed ones, get involved in. It will be seen as A level Christianity for the ones who are really serious about faith, when most of us feel that we have settled for the GCSE level.

Imagine Church, Neil Hudson.

Discipleship is for all Christians, not an optional extra.

What are the marks of a disciple?

  • Will worship God
  • Obey God.
  • Loves people, forgives people
  • Sacrifices, gives.

Which of these things seems most difficult to you? That may be what God is challenging you on.

Are you a disciple?

Do I worship and obey God? Read the Bible and pray regularly? Give willingly? Yet it is not all about us, it should be about God, a love response, not out of guilt or condemnation.



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