Stocki Sermons

LOVE GOD AND DO WHAT YOU LIKE

STOCKI PREACHING

"If you love me you will obey my commands," said Jesus

That was a seismic shift from keeping law by duty to a different basis of relationship. Love usurps law. 

"God is love."

"We love because God first loved us."

God grace through faith opens the possibility of a loving relationship with God.

"Love God and do what you like". 

I said that, though I wasn't the first.

The old legendary preacher Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones said that if we didn't preach that then we were not preaching the Gospel.

We didn't say "Do what you like..."

We said "LOVE GOD and..."

We are not saved by grace and then asked to work like the clappers to keep it. Grace opens the door to relationship with God and grace is the power that allows us to follow God. 

So who do we love? What does our God look like? Is God a judgemental ogre that we fear?

We do not love God because of what might happen if we don't. We love God because God is worth loving.

If you love me you will obey my commands.

 

HERE THE SERMON HERE 


CHANGING OUR PLACE IN SPIRITUAL SPACE

Stocki Irish News 1

Grace gives us a new place and space in the spiritual universe.

We are drowning in a sea swell of our fallenness, evil is ripping the fabric of our soul and the water is getting. 

How do we survive?

Can we save ourselves?

No. The life and teaching of Jesus and writings of the apostle Paul tell us that we do not live in a meritocracy. It is not by our own achievements that we are dragged out of the damning mire. 

It is by the grace of God in the love of Jesus.

The Lamb of God (not religious actions) take away the sin of the world. 

Jesus hauls us out of the rip cords of our human made doom and by his life, death and resurrection sets us on an island where we move from a position of alienation from God to being heirs of God the Father and joint heirs with Jesus.

It is positional holiness, justification if you like and from it the Holy Spirit works on a practical holiness, sanctification if you like. Something finished. Something still to work on.

As the song goes - 

 

“You broke the bonds

Loosed the chains

Carried the cross

And my shame

You know I believe it

But I still haven’t found what I am looking for.”

 

(This is an outline of my sermon in Fitzroy on April 28, 2020. It is part 3 in a series BEWARE of GRACE KILLERS...Listen to the whole sermon here )


JESUS' YES FACE AGAINST THE PHARISEES NO FACES

NO YeS FACEs

In his book Grace Awakening, Charles Swindoll has another way of looking at the legalists who as religious leaders grind us down with guilt and long lists of dos and don’ts.

“Their God is too small, their world is too rigid, and therefore their faces shout “NO”!”

No faces. We know who they are. They discourage us. They burden us. They make us feel guilty. 

The Pharisees had NO faces.

Jesus, on the other hand, had a YES face. 

I had never seen it, in all the times I have preached it. John’s Prologue to his account of Jesus life -  “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I have always used this as a theological text to incarnation. Yet Swindoll opened it afresh to be. “Grace and truth” is also the posture that Jesus carries into his ministry.

Always a YES face. At that wedding in Cana. Welcoming Nicodemus at night. Inviting a Samaritan woman in the heat of day into conversation. Jesus was drawing people to him with his YES face.

I know the story of the Parable Son was fiction but surely we can read into it that the Father had such a YES face that the Prodigal felt that he could go home. When he stepped onto the lane back to the farm that YES face was running down the road to throw his arms around him.  

Be assured that by his grace through faith that it is a YES face that looks at you today…

 

LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE SERMON HERE


KILLERS OF GRACE... ON THE LOOSE!

Killer On The Loose

“There are killers on the loose today. The problem is that you can’t tell by looking. 

They don’t wear little buttons that give away their identity, nor do they carry signs warning everybody to stay away. 

On the contrary, a lot of them carry Bibles and appear to be clean-living, nice-looking, law-abiding citizens. 

Most of them spend a lot of time in churches, some in places of religious leadership. 

Many are so respected in the community, their neighbours would never guess they are living next door to killers. 

They kill freedom, spontaneity, and creativity; they kill joy as well as productivity. 

They kill with their words and their pens and their looks. 

They kill with their attitudes far more often than with their behaviour.”

 

The opening words of Charles Swindoll’s classic book, Grace Awakening. I read these words in 1990 and it literally changed my life. North Antrim where I am from is fertile for Grace Killers.

Preachers were focused on the fact that the human soul is saved by grace not be works as Paul set out in Ephesians 2 verses 8 and 9 - “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

It was after the saving by grace that the error or heresy crept in. For too many of us we were taught that it was by God’s gift that we were saved BUT then it seemed that we were thrown a weighty burden of things that humans had to do to keep that salvation. 

Paul’s next sentence in Ephesians 2 suggests that the work to gain salvation is God’s and the work after we are saved - For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Here we see that post salvation it is still God working. Still grace.

Sadly that was not how it was in reality. You couldn’t go to pubs or the cinema. A glass of wine was drinking the devil’s vomit! It was best that you didn't talk to Catholics. If you didn’t reading the Bible in the morning the day could be dangerous. It was all about ticking what we should and should not do.

It was very legalistic like the Pharisees. They were the Killers of Jesus day, oppressing the people with laws upon the laws. Jesus was setting people free, “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”, being a key to his new dispensation.

The Killers give us a wrong view of God. He becomes an Oger to be afraid of rather than a father of love waiting to embrace us as in the story of the Prodigal Son. 

The Killers give us a wrong view of God’s love. They make it conditional. We are at the mercy of a meritocracy. 

The Killers finally give us a wrong view of ourselves. Our relationship with God is always precarious. Dependant on us. That heresy is back. It is as though God sits with a rubber to erase us from the Lamb’s Book Of Life if we step out of line.

Killers…

 

Listen To the Entire Sermon Here


RESURRECTION IRRUPTION - EASTER SUNDAY SERMON PODCAST

Stocki Bright

Stocki's Easter Sunday Sermon RESURRECTION IRRUTION was a ripper on God's love rather than any technical look at the Resurrection itself, though he shared how he wanted the Easter Sunday version of the Hadron Collider to express the seismic shift in the world that took place on Holy Week. 

God's love as a "...fervent, vigorous, genuine, indissoluble love, a love that is impossible to extinguish’ to quote John Chrysostom. A rant about a God who does not have a giant universal eraser to rub out your name from the Lamb's Book of Life.  The amazing ever lasting grace of God. 

LISTEN HERE


THE SPIRITUAL POSTURE OF SURRENDER

White flag

“Surrender don't come natural to me 

I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want 

Than to take what You give that I need 

 

Every Lent I am down to these words of the late Rich Mullins, Christian songwriter whose songs had a robust if at times quirky Biblical foundation, a preacher and prophet's sharpness and always struck the personal.

So, I brought Jesus words in the Sermon On The Mount (Matthew 6:30-34) paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message. I wanted to preach on Surrender being a spiritual posture for Lent

After a beginning that looks at the fallen intuition of the human being and how Jesus transforms it, it is then just a matter of asking what we fight for that we do not need and what God wants to give that we are rejecting.

 

LISTEN TO THE SERMON PODCAST HERE


STOCKI PREACHING PODCAST - 1.7.24 - REND THE HEAVENS...

Stocki Preaching 5

When I was assistant minister in First Antrim back in the late 80s we would gather for the congregational prayer meeting at 6.30 on Friday morning. Yes, 6.30am!

Most Friday's for five years, one of our elders in First, Davy McMahon would ask God to "Rend the heavens and come down..." Every week it inspired me. It was so urgent, so powerful, so transformational.

Davy was quoting the first verse from Isaiah chapter 64,

"Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, 
    that the mountains would tremble before you!

Every Friday that phrase of Davy's went with me long into the day... the week.

In the first chapter of the Gospel According To Mark we hear about the sky being torn. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open

10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

I had never connected those two passages before this past week. Jesus incarnation was God rending the heavens and coming down.

In his fascinating novel, The Gospel According To Jesus, Norman Mailer suggested that when the sky was opened that Jesus got a vision of all that he would do, he saw God's "kingdom come, His will being done on earth as it is in heaven".

Mailer's poetic prose has no firm Biblical foundation but his idea is not not there. What the over mathematical theologians would find questionable I find poetically inspirational.

It is a particularly fascinating idea for the first sermon of the new year based around Mark's account of Jesus baptism. I love the turn of the year and the possibilities newness brings...  bursting through baptism... and resurrection...

LISTEN TO THE SERMON PODCAST HERE


CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY - MY SERMON PODCAST

Christ The King 2

"The blessed ones are those who have seen a King who is not like the kings of this world."

This quotation from  New Testament Professor Carla Works was the key refrain in my sermon on Christ The King Sunday.

I shared my own obsession about Jesus that was not instigated by a fear of any afterlife our any burden I was feeling from sin as a relatively innocent 17 year old.

I shared how as a 25 year old I would have concentrated I=on the judgement side of the Parable of the Sheep and Goats but now saw it as a reminder about the different kind of King Jesus was.

We follow the King of the Manger, the Donkey, the Towel and the Cross. Jesus is a King who is not like any of the Kings of this world... and he invited us to follow him.

Hear the entire sermon here:

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DON'T PLAY SAFE - PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

Don't Play Safe

When I was working with students, back in the day, I used the Parable of the Talents once a year.

As students appeared to begin their University lives I could sense that those from a sheltered conservative background were most determined to stay safe from the big bad world.

The theory was that if you could stay out of the bottom bar of the Queens Students Union and avoid drink and those without a faith then maybe you could get through University without getting tainted or back sliding.

Now I lived in what might have been a very safe Hall of Residence so many parents prayed that their children would get in there and be safe.

I remember one mother phoning (apologies if it was you) and when I explained that I didn’t have any more rooms she almost broke down at the thought of her son in the Elms Halls with non Christians. He might even have to share a room with one.

To encourage her I spoke about a friend of mine who came to faith in Jesus because he had to share a room with another friend of mine in those exact Halls. "That’s what happened to me," she said. I couldn’t quite believe the conversation.

Anyway I always warned my students against playing safe with the talent God had given them. This parable was against digging holes and hiding so that we wouldn’t get tainted or grazed. 

This parable was God telling us that he had gifted us an abundance of faith and spiritual gifts and that we were to be out there taking risks in the world to extend the Kingdom of God.

If we were the light of the world I suggested there was no point in shining in the light. It was the dark we were called to. Get out of the hole. Get down from the ivory tower. Playing safe is not an option. Ask Jesus.

 

Listen to the full sermon from November 19th 2023 here:

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JESUS DOES HIS BEST PEP GUARDIOLA

Pep Dressing Room 2

The first time Pep Guardiola walked into the Manchester City changing rooms and sat down in front of the players, he laid it out. From now on this is how we are going to play. Nowadays we call it "playing out from the back" and it means that the goalkeeper has to be as good a passer of the ball as anyone else on the team.

Pep revolutionised soccer with this idea. Everybody, right down to Saturday morning league teams play out from the back. Many goalkeepers didn't make the cut.

As I prepared this week's sermon on Jesus' Sermon On The Mount I considered that this is how Matthew opens Jesus ministry. This is the beginning and I sensed that like Pep, Jesus was laying it out. This is how it has been but from here in, in my team, we play like this.

He then gave them this team talk that revolutionised the ideas of anyone else of his time poor in spirit, meek, hunger and thirsting for righteousness, peacemakers!. I mean "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth". What?!?!?!

As well as telling them how it was going to be Jesus was also telling them who was in and who wasn't. Across the Gospels when Jesus speaks there are Pharisees lurking around the edges. How off putting for fishermen and tax collectors. Jesus however is telling this new inner circle of the marginalised that it is they who can play this way. Later a Rich Young Ruler will walk away unable to become poor in spirit.

In Pep's Manchester City, the club's heroic Joe Hart was out the door. He wasn't good enough with his feet. When we play the way of Jesus there will be casualties.

And so Jesus starts building up the psychological confidence of a seeming rabble of disciples that in three years time he will leave in charge. It'll do them good to know that thinking about adultery and murder is as bad as doing it which rather levels the playing field among the self righteous religious leaders.

These Beatitudes are the ways of the kingdom, only those with such posture can be on the team and then we will make these characteristics the character of the Kingdom.

I finished with a poem that Scott Hunter-Jamison wrote for a Fitzroy event many years ago:

 

LISTEN

This is how it’s going to be

Broken hearts will be held together

Grief will be out of a job for good

Pride will know the cold side of the door

What is right will be devoured

Bread will be broken with mercy

Purity will be the porchlight

And peace will be its moth and those

Who have known the back of hands

Will know every lifeline of my palm

This was how I had always planned.

 

Listen to the sermon on Sunday Sermon Podcast

 

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