Dave Harper (Sun, 22 Sep 2013)
Dave spoke on the vision for Church in the Peak for the coming year.
Tim Chester in his excellent book, Everyday Church summarises the challenge facing the church in a post Christian culture like this:
"We have become outsiders just as Jesus was an outsider. We are marginal in our culture because Jesus is marginal. The cross is the ultimate expression of marginalisation, and to follow Jesus is to take up our cross daily, daily to experience marginalisation and hostility. Being on the margins is normal Christian experience. Christendom was the aberration. Rather than assume we should have a voice in the media are on the high street we need to regain the sense that anything other than persecution is an unexpected bonus."
"And we can not only survive on the margins, we can thrive. From the margins we point to God's coming world and offer an alternative lifestyle, alternative values and relationships - a community which proves incredibly attractive"
How far have you come in accepting that we are on the margins of our society?
Jesus said 'take up your cross and follow me'. Have you settled in your own heart that to follow Jesus is to walk as he did, risking rejection because we know that Jesus is Lord? Do you see it as an adventure?
Genuine relationship takes openness: to be the community of Jesus let's ask these questions when we meet together: What has God been saying to you recently? What are you struggling with?
The Grace Of God
Dave Harper (Sun, 08 Sep 2013)
Today we looked at a very messy church, the Corinthian church, and how God's grace was extended to them in all their failings and weakness. When we respond to God's call we are saved, we are made righteous, we are sanctified and God is working in our lives. Verse four says that God 'gave grace' to the Corinthians 'in Christ Jesus'.
Grace is amazing, its God's gift to us, to forgive us all our sins and to set us free from the power of sin and give us new life in Christ Jesus. Failure does not undo God's grace but God's grace will call us back to Jesus humbled and glad. When we lose his presence, sense the loss of fellowship, realise something is wrong , we can humble ourselves before him and wait for his grace and favour to come to us. The bible says ' God opposes the proud but gives grave to the humble' and it also says 'humble yourself under God's mighty hand and in due time he will lift you up.' These two verses have been anchor verses for me when things have gone belly up in the church or I have faced leadership failure or misjudgment.
Gordon Fee in his commentary says this: " The cross stands in absolute, uncompromising contradiction to human wisdom. The cross in fact is folly to wisdom humanly conceived; but it is God's folly, folly that is at the same time his wisdom and power. Who in the name of wisdom would have dreamed up a story of a crucified Messiah. Only God is so wise as to be so foolish"
He goes on " Furthermore, look at its recipients, yourselves! Who in the name of wisdom would have chosen you to be the new people of God?" See v 26-31
These verses humble us before God, we are nobodies called by God to be his people and to show his wisdom, power and glory through us. We stand exposed before his grace, stripped naked of our pride and abilities, and if we must boast then let's blow a trumpet for Jesus!
1. Paul thanks God always for the grace given to the Corinthian Christians ( Verse 4). This is a model attitude of how to respond to moral or spiritual weakness in those around us. Is he just naive or is this possible? Or desirable?
2. What's the secret for developing this attitude to our brothers and sisters?
3. What do you think Paul is trying to achieve in verses 26-31 by reminding the Corinthian Christians that not many we're of any great significance in the world's eyes?
God's Grace Is Enough
Dave Harper (Sun, 21 Jul 2013)
Dave spoke from Genesis 33 about God's grace.
Further notes and questions may be available in due course.
Idols of Independence and Rebellion
Dave Harper (Sun, 02 Jun 2013)
Reading exodus 34:12-14 Today Dave looked at the idols of independence and rebellion. An idol is something or anything so central to our life that we feel we cannot live without it. A good thing becomes the supreme thing, the ultimate thing in our life. Calvin said our heart is an idol factory, We have a great capacity to make idols Dave spoke of his own idol of rebellion when he first became a christian. He also spoke about the idol of independence when no one can tell me what to do or that there's anything wrong. He spoke of the 4 stages in dealing with idols. First, is to recognise that we have an idol, second is to repent (choose to change) third to renounce that idol as a lifestyle and finally to replace the place of the idol with God's presence and Spirit. Freedom comes from The Lord as we choose to change and face our idols. He is jealous for us because he is a lover and passionate about us and does not want to brook any rivals. Lets act to put to death the idols (Col 3:1-5) , getting rid of the counterfeits and lets hold our ground choosing to keep resisting areas of sin and call on Jesus till we have the full victory Questions Moses commanded the people of God to be ruthless in dealing with the gods of this world Exodus 34 versus 12 to 14 How do we know what has become an idol in our life, how do we recognise it? What does it take to rid ourselves of an idol? When God grants us freedom in an area of our life how do we maintain our freedom? What idols have you confronted in your life, how did you keep your freedom?
Grateful To God
Dave Harper (Sun, 17 Mar 2013)
Grateful To God - Philippians Chapter 4:14-23
(From Tom Wright’s notes)
To view a copy of these notes in PDF format, click here.
‘Paul seeks to show gratitude while not letting anyone think he is really in this business for the money (v. L7).There were many wandering teachers and philosophers in the ancient world who would go from place to place selling their ideas, and many of them came to be regarded as crooks and cheats. So Paul returns to an accounting metaphor not to suggest for a moment that the Philippians were earning their salvation, but to say that God was delighted that their faith, hope and love were finding this practical expression.’
1 According to Paul , what blessings come from sacrificial giving? (v 18-19)
2 In verse 19 Paul made the Philippians a promise , not from himself but from God. How has that promise proved true for you?
“At last we understand the full extent of why Paul is so grateful for the Philippian church’s partnership in the gospel (see 1:5, 7; 4:14-15). It isn’t just that they have sent him money with Ephaphroditus as their willing messenger. It is that they have continued a habit which goes right back to the beginning. This is why the whole letter has the warm tone, the sense of deep trust and affection, that we have sensed throughout”
3 What practical help does this scripture passage offer in being more grateful to God?
Full Of Hope
Dave Harper (Sun, 20 Jan 2013)
Philippians 1:12-26 ‘Full of Hope’
(From Tom Wright’s Bible Study guide for Philippians)
To view these notes in PDF format, click here.
To view the day of prayer & fasting notes, click here.
‘As Paul writes the letter to the Philippians, Paul is faced with two problems, one on top of the other. In both cases he declares that what looks like a major difficulty is being turned by God into an opportunity for the gospel. The first part of the problem is that he's in prison. For a traveling apostle to be put in prison must have seemed like a concert pianist having his hands tied behind his back. The second problem is that there are people going around talking about King Jesus who don't really mean it. They don’t believe the message; they merely want to make more trouble for him in his imprisonment. Paul, with his strong belief in the way God works through unlikely circumstances, is ready with an answer’.
Read 1:12-18 How would you describe Paul’s mood throughout this passage?
In what ways has Paul’s imprisonment advanced the gospel?
Why do you think Paul’s imprisonment had such a positive effect on the Christians in Philippi?
++When have you been faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, and seen God work good out of them? How did the experience(s) affect your faith?
(Tom Wright: ‘Paul writes to encourage the church in Philippi, but his words ought also to be a great encouragement to us. How often are we tempted to feel discouraged because our plans were badly thwarted or because malicious people were trying to make life difficult? We need to learn from Paul the art of seeing God's purposes working out through problems and difficulties’)
Read 1:18-26 How would Paul’s comments help the Christians in Philippi in their worries about Paul?
Paul feels confident that God has more work for him to do (vv. 23-25), even though he admits that his first desire is to be with God. How can his attitude here serve as a model for us in times of waiting?
++Paul's belief never wavered, indeed it came through the experience strengthened (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-11). But his feelings came and went. Learning to distinguish between the two is part of Christian maturity. What is one circumstance right now in which you need to maintain your belief and hope in the midst of troubling feelings?
Bring your toughest problems to the Lord, and after you have named them, ask God to help you wait eagerly and full of hope because nothing is going to put you to shame (Philippians 1:20).
The Challenges Of Being A Church On Mission
Dave Harper Debra Evans (Sun, 09 Dec 2012)
Dave spoke about 'helping one another on mission'. The commission from Jesus to go on mission is clear whether we look at the 12,(Luke 9:1-2) the 72 (Luke 10), the disciples at Galilee (Matthew 28:18-20) or the early church (Acts 2 on). Jesus' mandate was 'heal the sick and preach that the kingdom of God is near'.
Debra shared how mission felt like a heavy overcoat, inflexible and crushing. She shared how it caused her to look at her own failings and short comings and question her ability and worthiness to be on mission. She then went on to share how she has sought to get free of it by rejecting the lies that seemed to disqualify her and instead choose to believe the truth about her identity and to trust Jesus. She also shared how important being part of the family of the church is in supporting and encouraging her.
Dave picked up on finding our identity in God and spurring one another on to love and good deeds as we meet together and encourage one another. Heb 10:23-25 and 1 Peter 4:10-11
What was your response to Debra's testimony and shared vulnerability? Did you identify with her at all?
When things get tough do you tend to pull back or do you seek out help and encouragement from others in the church or your community group?
Read Hebrews 10:23-25. How can we put this into practice more than we do?
In 1 Peter 4:10 Peter urges us to use the gifts we have received, Debra quoted this text and sought to apply it to herself. How would you apply it?
Dave Harper (Sun, 11 Nov 2012)
On Church In The Peak’s 25th Anniversary Celebration weekend, Dave looked at the Isaiah 41:17-20 – some of the very first prophetic verses given about Church in the Peak.
Dave spoke about the spiritual DNA that God puts in everyone when they are saved and also about the spiritual DNA of the church.
What Is Our Mission
Dave Harper (Sun, 30 Sep 2012)
Dave spoke about our mission statement, what we are here for, what is our purpose,why we exist. This is the statement: ‘We exist to worship God and encounter his presence, committed to advancing his Kingdom through local church communities caught up in mission both here and to the nations’.
Do you find the idea of being a church on mission exciting, frightening, challenging or what?
Not everybody is an evangelist, in what ways can you be missional?
Read Bill Hybel’s extract from ‘Just Walk Across the Room’ called Seed Sowing Fools. He ask this question:’Do you really believe that someday the seed you sow will fall on the right soil and produce fruit?. Why or why not?”
How would taking Christ at his word that you will produce fruit encourage you to get engaged in the work of evangelism?
Vision Sunday 2: Your Kingdom Come?
Dave Harper (Sun, 23 Sep 2012)
Dave continued his Vision Sunday message, preaching from Matthew 11:1-19.
How did Jesus answer John’s question of whether he was the one who would bring the Kingdom of God into this world?
If Jesus does not meet our expectations of what he should do, are we tempted to be offended by him?
We may be offended because of some of the costs of following Jesus and being in his kingdom. Eg Matt 10:25 or Matt10:35-37. What does Jesus teach us to do when faced with such challenges? (10:38 & 39 give the best answer!)