Category Archives: children

Are you desperate enough for Jesus?

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When you find yourself in deep trouble, when the rubber has hit the fan, it really does not matter whose fault it was or what caused it. All you really want is someone to help, someone to understand, someone to get you out of trouble. You see dying people, broken people, hurt people, used and abused people, don’t need theological explanations, or self-help tutorials, they need practical help, not next month, not next week, but today, right now, this very minute.

In Matthew 15 we meet a mother. A desperate mother. A mother with a sick child.  Imagine that you’ve carried this baby in your womb for nine long months. You’ve been through the excruciating pain of childbirth. You’ve nursed her, fed her, washed her, changed her. Watched her grow, take her first step, say her first word. You can still remember her first day of school. How pretty she looked in that dress. The first time you let her out of your sight. She’s your little girl.  Your little girl. And this was her little girl. Maybe she had been sick before. A cold here. A headache there, maybe a bruise or bump from time to time. But nothing ever like this before. In the daytime she screams and shouts constantly. You can’t put clothes on her because she’ll tear them off. Her hair is no longer washed and tidy with sweet little pig-tails.  Her hair is all pulled out at the roots and the remaining ones are left sticking up. Strange voices come out of her mouth. She can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t play. But one thing is constant, those eyes. There’s a strange look in her eyes. Eyes that tell you that this is no ordinary sickness, no ordinary problem, no ordinary trouble. She is …. and you don’t want to even say the word… possessed.

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Where do you long to be?

moana-november-2016“There’s a line where the sky meets the sea
And it calls me
But no one knows how far it goes
All the time wondering where I need to be
Is behind me
I’m on my own
To worlds unknown”

I wonder if you can identify with Moana singing “How Far I’ll Go” in the lavish new Disney film?

“Every turn I take
Every trail I track
Is a choice I make
Now I can’t turn back
From the great unknown
Where I go alone
Where I long to be”

When you look at the beauty of the world around you, does it fill you with a sense of wonder? Does its abundance inspire you to praise God?  Are you thankful just to be alive? Are you frustrated with the world the way it is? Does the presence of evil and suffering impel you to want to help those in need? Are you restless? Are you longing to fulfil your destiny?  I encourage you to see the film Moana.

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The Redemption of Shaun the Sheep

27353142392_d90a94c736_kThis is the story of Shaun the sheep. Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost.  He lives with his friends and is a happy sheep. His master loves him and cares for him and provides everything he needs.  But Shaun is always wandering off and get lost. His master calls him, searches for him and eventually finds him. He brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to play in the garden on the swings and slide. He loves climbing trees. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to help out in the church. In the office and the kitchen. Making tea and coffee and washing up. He loves making music and playing with computers and distracting the staff.
But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

27418107446_b3822b11a8_kShaun’s favourite place is the Sunday Clubs. He loves playing in the crèche with the toys and reading Bible stories. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep. He is always wandering off and getting lost. His master calls him and searches for him. He eventually finds Shaun and brings him home rejoicing.

Shaun loves to be in the Church and help with the flowers and straighten the chairs. But Shaun is a short-sighted sheep.  He is always wandering off and getting lost. Then one day Shaun gets really lost and is put in the lost property box. Oh dear. His master calls him and searches for him but cannot find him. His master is very, very sad. So his master leaves his other 99 sheep and goes in search of Shaun. He searches very high and very low.

26842992114_f219d85182_k Eventually he finds Shaun, sitting in a charity shop window. He looks very sad and lonely. His master goes into the shop and gladly pays the price to buy Shaun back. His master is so happy to find Shaun. He brings him home rejoicing. And that’s the story of Shaun the sheep.

Shaun the short sighted sheep. He was lost and found. He was redeemed.  His master paid to get him back. That is what ‘redeem’ means – to pay for something you really want back. The Bible says we are like Shaun the sheep. Sooner or later we all get lost and lose our way because we are short-sighted.

The Bible says, “we all like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6). God says, “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God” (Isaiah 59:2). We are all like lost sheep. Like King David, we need to admit, “I have strayed like a lost sheep” (Psalm 119:176). But we don’t have to stay lost for ever. The good news is Jesus came to rescue us.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

27418140486_492cd9c492_k We are all like Shaun. Whether you know you are lost or just not sure. Jesus promises today:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

If we listen to Jesus voice and follow him, we will never be lost again. Instead we will be able to say like King David, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” (Psalm 23:1)

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Jesus speaks to us as we read the Bible and we respond to his leading in prayer. He wants us to stay close to him, so that we will never get lost again.  Can you say “The Lord is my shepherd”?

To remind you of this story, I have a book mark to help you memorise these verses and make them your own so you can help others who may be lost find a place in Jesus flock.

Let’s say a prayer to thank Jesus for being our Good Shepherd.

Thank you Lord Jesus for loving us and being our Good Shepherd. Thank you for coming to find us and rescue us because we were lost. Thank you for giving your life to redeem us, and buy us back. Help us to stay close to you in your flock. Help us to listen to you as we read the Bible. Please make us eager to follow you and do what is good and right. In Jesus name.

View the photos of the story here

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Richard Bewes on the Story of Philip and the Ethiopian from Acts 8

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Jesus at the Christmas Movies

disney-characters-header-imageIt has become a popular tradition at Christ Church, Virginia Water, for the sermon at the Christmas Carol Service to feature one of the films being shown in cinemas in December. Here are some from previous years:

Jesus and Star Wars: The Force Awakens  (2015)
The Gospel According to Paddington Bear  (2014)
Frozen: A Story to Melt Your Heart  (2013)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  (2012)
Arthur Christmas Meets Jesus  (2011)
A Lion in the Manger  (2010)
The Purpose of Christmas  (2009)
The Day the Earth Stood Still  (2008)
His Dark Materials  (2007)
Always Winter Never Christmas  (2005)
The Incredibles  (2004)
The Return of the King  (2003)

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The King of Kings and Queens

Do you know this lady? What’s her name?  Elizabeth. Her second name? Alexandra. Her third name? Mary. And her family name? Windsor. Hands up if you have ever seen Her on TV?  I think that’s everyone!  Hands up if you’ve written to her?

Hands up if you received a reply? Hands up if you have met Her Majesty in person? Hands up if you have ever spoken to her? Hands up if you have ever been invited to tea? Dinner? Breakfast? Hands up if you have ever been i
nvited to stay with her? Hands up if you have been on holiday with her?  Hands up if you are related to her?  No one?   Who wants to be the Queen? [Queen]

How could you become a member of the Royal Family?  By birth. By royal bloodline.  [3 Helpers]  How else?  By marriage. If you married a member of the Royal Family [2 Helpers]. Any other way? By adoption – you could be chosen to become her sonor daughter. Anyone like to be adopted into the Royal Family? [Helper] These are the three ways you could be related to Her Majesty. Based on our survey today, we all seem to know about her Majesty, but very fewqueen-elizabeth-ii-bill-cannon, if anyone, can actually say, “I know her personally”. And as far as we know, no one here is related to her. She
is a very very important person, and very difficult to contact unless she takes the initiative. Do you have her mobile number or email address?  We aren’t surprised if she doesn’t phone or invite us to tea, even though she only lives a few miles away in Windsor. We aren’t disappointed if she doesn’t invite us to join her family or share her inheritance.   Do you know Queen Elizabeth’s full title?

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The Gospel According to Paddington Bear

Trains were humming, loudspeakers blaring, porters rushing about shouting at one another, and altogether there was so much noise that Mr Brown, who saw him first, had to tell his wife several times before she understood. ‘A bear? On Paddington station?’

Mrs Brown looked at her husband in amazement. ‘Don’t be silly, Henry. There can’t be!” “Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. ‘Good afternoon,’ it said, in a small clear voice … The bear puffed out its chest. ‘I’m a very rare sort of bear,’ he replied importantly. ‘There aren’t many of us left where I come from.’ ‘And where is that?’ asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. ‘Darkest Peru. I’m not really supposed to be here at all. I’m a stowaway.'”[1] Michael Bond’s marmalade sandwich-loving Peruvian bear first sauntered onto the page in 1958’s A Bear Called Paddington.

Named after the London station at which he was found, Paddington has been delighting generations of children the world over, ever since. Now for the first time he is appearing in the cinema too. Paddington, is a charming and funny little adventure about a very polite and friendly bear who yearns for a new home in London. Harry Potter producer David Heyman says: “Paddington Bear is a universally loved character, treasured for his optimism, his sense of fair play and his perfect manners, and of course for his unintentional talent for comic chaos.”

The Gospel according to Paddington Bear from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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David, Goliath and Jesus

Did you know that Jesus is mentioned in every book of the Bible? God’s rescue mission did not begin in Bethlehem or even at Calvary, but way back in the Garden of Eden. On Sunday mornings in July and August, the adults are going to discover that Jesus is mentioned by each of the Old Testament Prophets. They have already discovered the Lord Jesus in the story of Abraham and Isaac, in the Passover Lamb; in the Bronze Snake; When Joshua meets the Commander of the Lord’s army and many, many, more! Jesus is mentioned in every book of the Old Testament. Today we come to the story of David and Goliath. They were very different weren’t they?

Goliath was Tall but David was… [small]
Goliath was an adult but David was a….. [boy]
Goliath was a soldier but David was a…. [shepherd]
Goliath wore armour but David had [the Bible]
Goliath boasted but David… [trusted]
Goliath was rude but David was….. [honest]

Why was David able to defeat Goliath? Who trained David as a young boy to shepherd his people by practising on sheep? (17:14). Who gave David the courage to fight a bear and a lion to defend his sheep? (17:36). Who taught David to be an ace shot with a sling and a stone? (17:49). (Don’t try that at home children). Who prompted David to challenge his enemy when he defied God? (17:47). Who inspired David to write about a descendant who would become his Lord? (Psalm 110:1-2). From when he was a young boy David trusted in God.

“The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” (17:37).

That is why David was confident God would protect him even though Goliath was much taller and bigger and stronger than he was (17:45-47).

Goliath had defied God. David would help everyone see that God cannot be mocked. David’s victory saved his entire people from slavery, even though:

His family disowned him
“Eliab, David’s oldest brother… burned with anger, “Why have you come down here? … I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” (17:28)

The leaders used him
“Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armour on him and a bronze helmet on his head.” (17:38)

 His enemy tried to kill him
“The Philistine cursed David… Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!” (17:43-44)

His God vindicated him
“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.” (17:50)

His followers sang about him
“When the men were returning home, the women came out… danced and sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” (18:6-7)

The people loved and followed him
“But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he led them in their campaigns.” (18:16)

What can we discover about Jesus from his great, great, great, great grandfather David? Jesus is called the Son of David 17 times in the New Testament.  Do you see the similarities between David and Jesus? Jesus was both the Son of David and the Lord of David. Like David, Jesus family disowned him. The leaders used him. His enemy did kill him. But God raised him. And today his followers sing about him. They love him and follow him. Like David, Jesus has rescued us from slavery to our enemy.  He defeated Satan on the cross.

You may be small. You may be young. You may feel afraid, but like David, you are never too young to trust Jesus.

He will be your friend and always love you.
He will be your Saviour and always protect you.
He will be your Lord and always be with you.

 

Image from the Brick Bible

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Jesus on Children

Luke 18:15-17: Membership: To Care that Children are Nurtured in the Faith

Tom, aged 5, opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out. He picked up an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages. “Mum, look what I found,” he called out. “What have you got there, dear?” With astonishment he answered, “I think it’s Adam’s underwear!”

Mandy aged 5 was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, “Daddy, you shouldn’t wear that suit.” “And why not, darling?” “You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.”

Zachary, aged 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell his mother he’d dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So she fished it out and threw it in the garbage. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to the bathroom and came out with her toothbrushtoo. He held it up and smiled, “We better throw this one away too then, because it fell in the toilet a few days ago.”

We have come to the final and perhaps most important affirmation in our Church Membership statement, “To Care that Children are Nurtured in the Faith.” Written in the 1950’s, The Short Guide to the Duties of Church Membership was intended to provide a summary of what is expected of church members. Our Creeds tell us what we should believe. Our membership pledge describes how we should behave. Once a year at Easter, we individually and collectively renew our commitment to Jesus Christ and to one another for the year ahead by reaffirming these disciplines or pledges. Since Easter we have been considering them one by one in our sermon series. I invite you to keep a copy in your Bible, take them seriously, and review them periodically to help you grow to maturity. Please turn with me to Luke 18:15-17 and let us allow Jesus to teach us about the place of children in his church. Observe three things:

To parents, children are a precious gift
To the disciples, children were a pain in the neck
To Jesus, children are a perfect model

The Nurture of Children from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

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Harvest: Investing our Talents for Jesus

Why do we celebrate Harvest Festival? To thank God for our food and drink. How do we thank God?  We thank God by sharing our food and drink with others in need. Like the Food Bank.  We also remember that God has given us our gifts and talents to share with one another – like Tools with a Mission. Who do you want to be when you grow up? Jesus told this story to help us realise that you’ve got talent! God has invested in us. He has entrusted us with gifts and talents. He wants us to develop them to serve. He wants a return on his investment.  God has made each one of us unique. He has given each of us gifts and talents, and skills and passions. How can we find out what talents God has given us?Ask these questions:

  • What am I good at? (Skills)
  • What makes me sad?  (Concerns)
  • What do I like doing? (Passion)
  • If I could do anything, what would it be? (Vision)
  • What has God told us all to do? (Responsibility).

Keep asking these questions and as you grow up, your role will become clearer.  Allow your passion to become your purpose and one day it will become your profession. But it’s not just about discovering my talents. It’s also about discovering how to use them.  I can use my talents to make lots of money for myself or I can invest them for the benefit of others. I can use my abilities to hurt people or to heal people. I can use my talents to build up or tear down. I can use my talents for myself or for God. This glove represents my life or your life. When we try and use our talents for ourselves this is what happens (blow the glove up) – we are just full of hot air and soon wear other people out.

But when we realise we are servants of the King and invite Jesus to live in us, He breathes his life in us so he can use our talents and gifts for his glory. That is why we must daily be filled with His Spirit.

Have you ever watched the programme on TV called The Dragons’ Den?  To help you apply Jesus story and discover God’s plan for your life, I’d like to make an investment in you. As long as your parents agree,

I would like to invest in you by giving you some shoe polish, a cloth and a glove. I’d like you to clean your shoes and the shoes of your family, and maybe of people who come to your house. Please don’t ask for money but if people offer to give you some, say ‘thank you’ and explain it is going to help people in Syria who are suffering. Like the man in Jesus story,

I am going away for a month, but when I come back, I expect you to return my investment in you, hopefully with interest.  Please bring back the polish and any money to the Christ Church December Family Service. We will then give any money raised to help people suffering in Syria.

And when you clean the shoes, put the glove on. It will remind yourself that you are doing it for Jesus and need his help to do it for the right reasons. It will also keep you clean.

Now this is not a competition to see how much you can make with your talent.  What matters is that we are thankful for the talents God has given us and we use them with a servant heart.

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