47 episodes

We're a church in South East London learning how to love God and love our neighbours. Here you can listen in to what we're talking about.

Trinity Vineyard Sunday Morning Trinity Vineyard Church

    • Religion & Spirituality

We're a church in South East London learning how to love God and love our neighbours. Here you can listen in to what we're talking about.

    Just One Thing: Reading the Bible

    Just One Thing: Reading the Bible

    Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
    Psalm 1: 1-3
     
    Not everything in your Bible is always easy to understand. 
     
    Not everything in your Bible is even comfortable to read. 
     
    However, you do not need umpteen theology degrees, nor do you need to be an unrepentant bible nerd to grasp what is necessary in the Bible to be formed into a resilient disciple - someone who delights in the word of the Lord and soaks it up day and night. 

    The Bible gives us wisdom for any situation across a lifetime by telling us the story of what it is to be human and who God is. 
     
    The aim of this story is to shape us into people who, as they read, mature spiritually. To mature spiritually is to begin to know what it feels like in any given situation to be more in line with the will of God instead of less. 
     
    We are invited to step into that story, to make it our own, to be shaped by its beauty and to live by its wisdom.
     
    Yet, one of the challenges in accepting this invitation is the fact that to fully step into these texts we must train ourselves to see their wisdom and beauty. We have to spend time in the word of God. Even when we don’t understand. Even when we don’t find it comfortable.
     
    The good news is our effort needn’t be a sprint. 
     
    We aren’t trying to download hundreds of pages into our heads in a single sitting. We should be working at developing a lifetime passion, developing consistency, bit by bit, little by little, day by day. No one gets the Bible in one reading. It is designed to be read again and again in community. 
     
    We should be feasting on God’s word, eating this honey so that no other book tastes as sweet. 
     
    Other stories may entertain us for a moment. But to be fed, to receive life for the deepest parts of us, we come back again and again to the Bible. 
     
    We come to encounter God’s wisdom. We come to be formed by the Spirit. We come to receive revelation of God’s goodness and beauty, particularly through the person of Jesus.

    • 38 min
    Just One Thing: Generosity

    Just One Thing: Generosity

    Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

    But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

    “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you,but you will not always have me.”

    John 12:3-8

    True generosity has the power to change the world.

    As the Roman Emperor Julian tried to turn the Empire back towards the ancient Roman religion, he found that one of the main barriers was the fact that “the impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well, everyone can see that our people lack aid from us". The extraordinary generosity of the community founded by Jesus was spilled beyond the boundaries of the church and saw the early Christians forming a prototype welfare state. 

    Or think of the way that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, chose to live on a few percent of his actual income, giving the vast majority away. It  has been said that “when John Wesley was carried to his grave, he left behind him a good library of books, a well-worn clergyman's gown... and the Methodist Church”. The legacy of his life - the inheritance he left - amounted to absolutely nothing financially speaking. Because of his generosity, and others, there are today perhaps 80 million Methodists worldwide. 

    We celebrate such generosity, but we never imagine that we could emulate it. The story of the anointing of Jesus shows us how we could. It presents us with three options - three patterns that could shape our lives.

    We could be a religious opportunist, like Judas. However he had started out, by the end he was into Jesus for what he can get out of Jesus. He was a disciple on the cheap and on the take. He is a warning to us all: when we follow Jesus on a condition (this relationship, that promotion, success in this or that ministry) it's not Jesus we're really interested in - it's the condition.

    We could be a bean-counter. These people are sold on the Kingdom ministry of Jesus, especially if its done in the right way. They want to protect Jesus reputation (read Luke's account of this story) and they want to protect his resources. It can come from a good place, but again we have to guard our hearts. We can talk the language of stewardship, when what we're really reaching for is control. "Give that bottle to me!", they shout. "We'll look after it!" Do you think that if one of them had got hold of the perfume that their story would have been told?

    Or we can be a worshiper - someone who discerns who Jesus is an prepares themselves to pour out everything for him. Mary senses something about Jesus and his love, and knows that extravagant worship is the only possible response. Her bottle broken and nothing kept back. Jesus body broken, and his life flowing out. 

    Generosity isn't about rules, but about hearts transformed by Jesus - people prepared to 'go big' for him. When this is you, there won’t be any part of your life that won’t be affected by the indescribable joy of knowing that – whatever troubles come – you’re living in exactly the way you were created to.

    • 33 min
    Just One Thing: Confession

    Just One Thing: Confession

    Blessed is the one
        whose transgressions are forgiven,
        whose sins are covered.
    Blessed is the one
        whose sin the Lord does not count against them
        and in whose spirit is no deceit.
    When I kept silent,
        my bones wasted away
        through my groaning all day long.
    For day and night
        your hand was heavy on me;
    my strength was sapped
        as in the heat of summer.
    Then I acknowledged my sin to you
        and did not cover up my iniquity.
    I said, “I will confess
        my transgressions to the Lord.”
    And you forgave
        the guilt of my sin.

    - Psalm 32:1-5
    Imagine a world without forgiveness - where a wrong just remains, lodged in our lives. Injuries suffered and inflicted by you, unable to heal.

    In Christianity Rediscovered, the story of a missionaries work with the Masai tribes of Tanzania, the author writes of a strange encounter with a man who seemed to be on the fringes of the group.

    It was a simple question but it mystified me. He asked, “Can you people bring forgiveness of sin?” I hadn’t gotten around to forgiveness yet (or confession). I was still trying to get across the consciousness and reality of sin. I thought the man was not paying attention. I did not answer his question. I told him I would get to that some other day. Then, afterwards, I found out who he was. He was a man who had committed a great sin against the taboos of the Masai tribe. So he had become an outcast, belonging to no community… The worst part of it was that the sin in question was unforgiveable. There was no forgiveness possible from God or man. He was destined to live his life as a despicable outcast. No wonder he had asked me if I and my people could bring forgiveness.

    Psalm 32 shows the journey away from the psychological, spiritual and physical burden of undealt with sin, the result of the corruption of the human heart: incurvartus in se, curved in on itself, so that we pollute and misuse even the good gifts of God. When he confesses, he is forgiven - they are carried, covered and not counted.

    To offer each other confession and forgiveness is to offer blessing. It is the only way for the wound to heal. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together,

    It is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you. He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone. ‘My son, give me thine heart’ (Prov. 23:26).
    God has come to you to save the sinner. Be glad! This message is liberation through truth. You can hide nothing from God. The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him. He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner. Thank God for that.”

    • 47 min
    Just One Thing: Fasting

    Just One Thing: Fasting

    Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
    - Acts 13:1-3
    Fasting is not a results orientated practice. It will not prove to God how serious you are about unanswered prayer or make God love you more. We fast to achieve greater intimacy with God. John Mark comer says that “Fasting is not eating food in order to feed on the Holy Spirit; being hungry for God with your whole body.”

    How do we tend to respond to God moving in our lives, to God's forgiveness, or to tragedy? We often respond in our minds. But fasting is a whole body response. In the Bible people fast in response: in response to God moving in their lives; in response to God's grace, mercy and forgivingness; in response to tragedy 
    Fasting is not growing our will power muscle - it's about feeding on the Holy Spirit, drawing power from the Holy Spirit  out of relational connection to God - or what Jesus called abiding. Fasting is not likely to be easy. When we fast those things that are opposed to the Spirit come to the surface - they become more obvious and we will begin to realise just how much power and authority they have over us. Richard Foster said that "fasting reveals the things that control us... if pride controls us, it will be revealed almost immediately.. anger, bitterness, jealousy, strife, fear.. if they are within us, they will surface during fasting"
    As you fast reflect on all that God has done for you. Spend some time reflecting on what is happening within your body, mind and spirit when you fast - what’s coming to the surface that you perhaps need to bring before the Lord as you feast on the Holy Spirit. 
    Fasting is a response to encountering God,
    Fasting is a way to feast on the Spirit of God,
    Fasting is about freedom. 

    • 21 min
    Just One Thing: Prayer

    Just One Thing: Prayer

    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
    - Matthew 11:28

    The image Jesus chooses to use to describe the life of a disciple - someone who follows his teaching - is a picture of a yoke: a heavy object that is put on animals for the purpose of carrying a burden.

    And yet at the same time Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. 

    It is even more extraordinary that Jesus explicitly calls those who are weary. He calls those who are already burdened and those who are already at the end of their rope. They are the ones specifically called to take on Jesus’ yoke so that in doing so they find rest.

    How often do we tell ourselves:  When I get my work life balance right find time to pray, that’s when I can approach God! Almost everyone carries some area of their lives that they insist on trying to sort out all on their own. But according to Jesus, your burden IS your qualification. Realising you are tired and weary, and that you can’t do it on your own, is what gets you in the door.

    We’re all implicated in this massive human rebellion, the bent of our heart to prove our sufficiency apart from Jesus Christ whether that is through religious striving or some other metric we use to measure our worth. This striving, whether religious or secular, is a struggle under a crushing yoke. It is to labour under a burden we cannot bear and to ultimately miss out on rest - to miss out on life! 

    Jesus never says that this invitation to wear his yoke is without effort. I think the real question is not 'how do I take on a yoke without effort?', but 'how does taking on Jesus’s yoke and carrying his burden actually lighten my load?' Do we live out of the trust, coming to Jesus when we are in the middle of being weary and burdened? Tired and at the end of our ropes? 

    Taking on Jesus’s yoke is an invitation to step freely into his constant presence and to take it all in. 

    Jesus is not trying to teach you new spiritual techniques.... 

    Give you a to-do list the length of your arm.

    Give you new onerous burdens.

    He's trying to help you recognize him in all the ways he's showing up in the ordinary life that you already have. At its heart, prayer is stepping into conscious relationship with God. It is about intimacy with God and it is about partnership with God.

    • 37 min
    Kingdom Hope

    Kingdom Hope

    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    - Romans 15:13

    If someone asked you to tell the story of the 21st century, what would you include?

    The new millennium dawned with an era defining attack on the twin towers. This heralded conflict in the Middle East which is still playing out more than two decades later. The crash of 2008 put breaks not just on the economy but on the capacity of the nation state to promote and protect the wellbeing of its citizens. Political turmoil is everywhere: formerly responsible powers have engaged in a race to the bottom, while those we perceive as a threat have grown stronger. The pandemic set out in stark terms how vulnerable we are, in spite of all our technological prowess. The natural world is brutally damaged, but we just can’t seem to hop off the consumerist train as it hurtles on to further environmental degradation. We’re learning that progress for us often looks like pain and deprivation for others.

    This is the age of pessimism. The best people hope for is that they can cushion themselves from  the world with a bubble of career, pleasure, distraction.

    But Christians shouldn't be pessimists. Jesus is not only risen from the dead, but ascended. Acts 1:9 - After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

    To understand the ascension, we should look at the vision in chapter 7 of Daniel. Four monsters come up out of the sea. The last great monster who has come up from the sea stands up in the courtroom, presided over by God himself, and boasts about its power. Like all human empires before and since the monster, which represents human evil, babbles on about all the things it can do. God silences the creature's boasts, and then...

    “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

    Daniel's vision and the ascension of Jesus are the same thing. That’s what the clouds are about… The the power of human and spiritual evil has been judged, and that the Son of Man has been given an authority that will never pass away. This is our faith. This is the Kingdom. Jesus is Lord – of my heart? Of the church? No, Jesus is Lord of everything. As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

    So, we have hope.

    • 43 min

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