Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 24 March 2019
Today's Bible reading is taken from The Book of James, Chapter 3, verses 1 to 10, from the King James version of the Bible.
1) My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
2) For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and also to bridle the whole body.
3) Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body.
4) Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are turned about with a very small helm, wherever the governor chooses.
5) Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindles.
6) And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell.
7) For every kind of beast and bird and serpent, and of things in the sea is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.
8) But the tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9) Therewith do we bless God, even the Father, and therewith do we curse men which are made after the image of God.
10) Out of the same mouth proceeds blessings and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be.
Sermon / Address
The Book of James. That’s a book in the Bible you don’t usually hear of. In the King James version it refers to it as; “The General Epistle of James”. Who was James? One of Jesus’s disciples? Possibly. He describes himself in the 1st verse of Chapter 1 as; “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ”. We get a clue from Paul the Apostle. In his epistle to the Galatians, Paul wrote (Chapter 1 verse 19); “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord’s brother”. That he was Jesus’s brother is by no means certain because a number of Bible scholars believe him to be James, son of Alphaeus, who was one of the 12 Apostles. If he was Jesus’ brother, the epistle would have been written in Jerusalem before his martyrdom in AD 62. Confused? I could spend the rest of the sermon discussing the various views of Bible scholars as to whom James was or was not, but let’s move on to discuss James’s message and its relevance to us today.
James was writing to the early Christian Jews, helping them to stay on the straight & narrow. In this chapter, he was particularly keen for them to watch their tongues. He considered the tongue to control the whole body and character and used the analogy of a captain steering a mighty ship. But he was critical of the tongue, saying it was unruly and frequently got the person into trouble. How true that is today. How often do we think; “I wish I hadn’t said that”. How often do we start talking to someone without thinking and then realise we have offended them. How often do we say unflattering things about one person to another. Gossip, rumour, innuendo, white anting, back stabbing, angry outbursts; James really had a point when he said the tongue is like a fire which no one can control. He said it was an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. We have all had the experience of someone who doesn’t talk to us anymore because of something we once said. James said; “These things ought not to be”.
And yet the tongue can be used to great effect to calm a volatile situation, to soothe an agitated person, to express our love and admiration for a person. Remember Churchill’s stirring speeches during the 2nd World War. He, more than anyone else, saved Britain from tyranny with his encouraging and inspiring speeches. The tongue is mightier than the sword, to slightly alter a well- known saying.
When we read the 4 Gospels we realise how clever Jesus was at getting the word of God to the people. How multitudes would flock to hear him speak. How his words have been quoted down the centuries, like the Lord’s Prayer which we recited earlier. They have given comfort, hope and reassurance to so many. So, follow Jesus’s example - watch your tongue and use it wisely.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 24 February 2019
Today’s Bible text is taken from Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 6, verses 19 - 21 and I am reading from the King James version of the Bible.
19) Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon Earth, where moth and rust can corrupt and where thieves break through and steal.
20) But lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal;
21) For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.
Sermon / Address
Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel forms part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and contains the Lord’s Prayer which we recited earlier. My address is going to deal with another aspect of Jesus’s sermon. So I want to pose 2 questions. Why are we here? What are we doing here? Most people must ask themselves these questions some time in their lives. But we as members of our spiritualist church believe in life after death as well as reincarnation. So we believe we have an understanding of why we are here.
Many of us have been on this Earth plain many times, over many different lives. Some have only been here a few times and there may even be some who are here for the first time. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all have one aim in common and that is to make ourselves better people; although you wouldn’t think so the way some people run their lives. Perhaps I should say we are trying to improve our souls so that we can ultimately progress to the higher realms of Heaven. We know when we return to the spirit world what our shortcomings are. If not, we will be made aware of them.
We shall need many, many lifetimes on Earth to successfully deal with many, many experiences to reach the standard required in order to progress to the higher spheres. The problem is that once we leave the spirit world and enter the physical world our memory of exactly what particular experience or experiences that we need to address seems to have either been erased or at best suppressed from our physical memories. So you have the situation, particularly for souls who have not lived on the Earth plain for many lives, that we waste opportunities to improve ourselves spiritually. Instead, we may just fritter away our Earthly lives and achieve nothing. Or we may focus our Earthly lives on amassing physical wealth like flashy cars, a home in a trendy suburb and, maybe, a tidy sum in the bank in the mistaken belief they demonstrate how successful we have been. But these so called assets mean nothing in the spirit world and they don’t necessarily make you a better person.
Unfortunately, for many people it will mean having to keep coming back. In other words we shall have to undertake even more reincarnations in order to address the issues that we could or should have dealt with in earlier lives in order to improve our spiritual wealth. The Common Prayer Book sums it up succinctly: “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”
The key to bettering ourselves is to forget about acquiring physical wealth and concentrate on acquiring spiritual wealth; or as Jesus puts it in Matthew 6 that I read out earlier - treasures in Heaven. What do I mean by spiritual wealth? Jesus defined it in Matthew 25 as those who have selflessly helped others who were less well off than themselves or were finding life a struggle. In verse 40 Jesus says: “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me.” After loving or respecting God, Jesus said in Mark 12 verse 28 the next most important commandment is: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Love is the key to spiritual wealth. To paraphrase Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 verse 1; “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love I am nothing.”
So next time you are tempted to splash out on the latest SUV or 4 wheel-drive vehicle with all the bells and whistles so you can impress your neighbours and friends just remember what Jesus said in this morning’s text: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal. For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 16 June 2019.
My Bible reading this morning is taken from Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 15, verses 50 to 57 and I am reading from the King James Version:
50) Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
51) Behold, I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed.
52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53) For this corruptible must put on in-corruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.
54) So when this corruptible shall have put on in-corruption and this mortal shall put on immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; Death is swallowed up in victory.
55) Oh death, where is your sting? Oh grave, where is your victory?
56) The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law.
57) But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sermon / Address
This text goes to the very heart of our belief as Christian Spiritualists. It illustrates the 4th of our 7 principles: The continuous existence of the human soul. All 7 of our principles are listed on the pillar to my left. Paul wrote this epistle to the Corinthians, probably whilst living in Ephesus, which is on the south-west coast of Turkey, around AD 55, after he had established the Christian church in Corinth, which is in southern Greece. The church there was experiencing problems with some finding it hard to accept certain teachings of Paul. One of which was the immortality of the human soul.
Paul is explaining that, when we die we shall not finish up asleep forever in a grave, never to exist again. No, quite the reverse. In the twinkling of an eye our immortal soul or spirit will leave our physical body behind and we shall be free. There is no finality with death as many people believe. In fact it is the opposite. We are casting off our earthly body with all its aches and pains, all the trials and tribulations, the stresses and worries of everyday life and freeing our spiritual being, our immortal soul.
We are effectively being born again; this time into spirit. Jesus spent plenty of time explaining how we as immortal spirits shall enter the Kingdom of God. A number of his parables have Heaven as their subject. Jesus said in John 3 v3 & v7: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Marvel not (in other words - don’t be surprised) that I said to you, you must be born again.” Jesus was explaining to Nicodemus, the Pharisee, the difference between being born on Earth as flesh and being born into the spirit world, leaving our earthly bodies behind. He further explains in v6; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit”.
We are here on the Earth plane for a short while to gain valuable experience and to help us in our progression to the higher spheres in heaven. Many of us have been here many times before because you cannot possibly expect to gain sufficient experience and to make sufficient progress in one lifetime to enable you to advance to the higher realms in Heaven. So make the most of your time here on Earth to improve yourself, not with physical wealth (you can’t take that with you when you go) but with spiritual wealth you do take it with you. That is by selflessly helping others who are less fortunate than ourselves. As Jesus put it: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
When our time comes to leave the Earth plain, we can be confident we have not reached the end of our existence. Because Jesus is saying and Paul is confirming that we do indeed have immortality and there is a place in Heaven for all who try sticking to that straight & narrow path.
God bless you.
Sermon and Bible reading by David Ball - Sunday 18th August 2019
My Bible reading this morning is taken from Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 22 and I shall be reading verses 35 to 40 from the King James Version of the Bible:
35) Then one of the Pharisees, which was a lawyer, asked Jesus a question saying:
36) Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37) Jesus said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38) This is the first and great commandment.
39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love your neighbour as yourself.
40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
I want to talk about something that seems to be becoming more and more scarce these days. No, I am not talking about money. I am referring to respect. Perhaps I am still living in a bygone era when respect for other people was the norm. Perhaps I am showing my age by even mentioning the word.
Let me give you a couple of examples to illustrate what I am talking about. I am walking down Rokeby Road here in Subiaco. There are three people walking towards me. They are chatting and laughing loudly as they approach me. They don’t even see me as they get closer. I have to jump out of the way just in time to avoid colliding with them. Another example: I am quietly pruning the roses in my front garden. Then I hear this thump, thump, thump sound which quickly gets louder and louder as a car drives past with its windows wound down. The din (I believe they call it music) is making my body vibrate it is so penetrating. These examples are annoying but much worse are the increasing attacks on vulnerable, defenceless people such as old aged pensioners and young women on their own.
Gone are the days when you didn’t have to lock up your car and lock up your home all the time. Don’t think about leaving windows open on a hot summer’s night. Gone are the days when you could walk the streets in the evening or early in the morning without risking attacks. There is no respect at all coming from the perpetrators, quite the reverse.
We live in an age where it seems to be far more important to just look after yourself rather than thinking about respecting or considering others. How dangerous is it to be texting whilst driving? Many people do. They have no respect for other people on the road - vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians. There is a real chance of a serious accident occurring resulting in life threatening injuries. How selfish is that? Where is the respect for others?
Turning to today’s Bible reading, the Pharisee is asking Jesus; “Which is the great Commandment in the law?” First thoughts might be; “Thou shalt not kill” or perhaps; “Thou shalt not steal.” One or 2 others come to mind, but we would be wrong. Jesus made it very clear that, above all else, we should unconditionally love the Lord our God. He wasn’t saying that just because God is Jesus’s father. When you think about it, it makes sense. If you love God and worship him, as we do here each Sunday, then we are hardly going to go out and start murdering people or stealing from them as that is a direct contradiction of saying we love and respect God. In other words, no one who really loves and respects God is going to break the other Commandments.
Jesus was saying not only should we love God but he was very keen for us to love one another. If you sum it up in 2 words they would be love and respect. Love and respect God, love and respect your neighbour. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10. He showed love and compassion to the injured Jew. It illustrated that anyone, not just the folks next door can fit the definition of neighbour, even a foreigner like the Samaritan was willing to help the Jew.
A very old proverb or saying that is still used even today is; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. That fits in well with what Jesus was explaining to the Pharisee. Do good deeds to others, whoever they may be because you would like people to do good deeds to you. There is far too much hatred, jealously and disrespect in the world today. Too many people are trying to put down others and spreading malicious rumours about others. Instead of hating people or being jealous of them, we should try to be like the Samaritan and show love and respect towards others.
So follow Jesus’s 2 most important Commandments, love and respect God, love and respect one another and you can’t go wrong. If we all did, the world would be a much better place. The Beatles summed it up with their hit from the 60s. All you need is love, love is all you need. And I’ll add to that - respect.
God bless you.