Chris Appleby Ministries

Chris Appleby Ministries


 Hope for the future    Audio

Is 40

One of the major themes that have run through the media this year has been the sense of isolation and pain caused by such a long period of lockdown and disconnection. What we’ve longed for is some sense of comfort and relief. So where do we look for comfort? Well some of us have probably looked to food, as testified to by the daily recipes in The Age, not to mention our expanding waistlines. But we probably also acknowledge that that’s not the most positive way to seek comfort. The people of Israel, suffering not lockdown but exile, felt a similar sense of isolation and disconnection; not from one another but from their land. And so God speaks to them, offering comfort through a promise of rescue. His words are addressed to Israel but are equally helpful for us, struggling in a fallen world, longing for release. His words are gentle. He says “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” Literally, “speak to her heart.” The way lovers woo each other, speaking sweet nothings to one another, wooing, persuading, inviting a response of love. But it’s a cry that holds real hope: “Cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord's hand double, for all her sins.”

Sometimes we have trouble hearing when God speaks to us, but here the prophet is told to speak with quiet words of love and a loud shout of proclamation. Whatever it takes they’re to hear this message: ‘Comfort, Comfort!’ and believe that it’s true.

Ambassadors for Christ Audio

2 Cor 5:14-21

Well, it’s a big day for these five ordinands as they commit themselves to ordained ministry in the church as well as for George as he takes up a pivotal role as Archdeacon, but it’s also an opportunity for the rest of us to be reminded of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ.

As I read through the passage from 2 Cor 5 that we’ve just listened to I was struck by three statements that are particularly appropriate to an occasion like this.

No longer for ourselves but for Him

The passage begins by reminding us that Jesus died for all and that his death draws us in, so we too have died with him. The first thing that struck me was the conclusion that’s drawn from this. It’s there in v15. Jesus died so we could live; but not just live. The gospel has much greater ramifications than us simply being saved to new life. The gospel is much more countercultural than that: “He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” As I used to say to the kids in the youth group at church: “It’s not just about you.”


2 Tim 3:14-4:5    Prov 1:1-7

Hey Jesus, how can the Bible help me with life now, when it’s so old?

Research carried out some 15 to 20 years ago indicated that while 29% of Australian adults said they read the Bible at least once a year, only 8% said they read it frequently. When it came to school students that number dropped to 4% and they were mostly people who regularly attended church and youth activities. So clearly, even if it is still the best-selling book of all time, the Bible isn’t on many people’s go-to list for help with life.

So why is that? Is it to do with what C. S. Lewis called chronological snobbery? Anything that happened before the invention of the computer is out of date? Or is that the invention of the smartphone? Or Twitter and Facebook? Is it that we know so much more now through modern science, that the ancients didn’t have any clue about, that whatever we read in the Bible must be out of date?


Matthew 6:25-33    Psalm 119:96-105

I have a problem! Well, I have lots of problems, but this one is that my mind sometimes works too fast. Now you might think that that’s a good thing. There are times when you need to think fast: when you turn a blind corner and someone is hurrying towards you; when the car slides on a wet road; when you spill your glass of red wine on a white tablecloth. But I’m thinking of times when I come across some situation and my mind immediately jumps to conclusions, when I make an instant judgement about someone, or when I instantly fear the worst.

But then there are other times when I find my mind isn’t engaged at all, when I sort of drift through the day without really noticing what’s going on around me and that’s equally a problem for me.

There are also times when I echo the words of Neddie Seagoon on The Goon Show: “I don’t wish to know that!” Sometimes it feels like it’s all too much and it would be better to escape from reality.

Well what we’re thinking about today is how the Biblical idea of wisdom might change the way I use my mind. We’re going to be thinking about two complementary disciplines: mindfulness and memorisation. It’s always good to have sermon headings that alliterate isn’t it?


Jonah 1-2

Jonah would have to be one of the best known names in the Bible, wouldn’t he? Just about everyone has heard the story of Jonah and the whale even if they don’t know the details. When a cricket commentator says how well a batsman’s doing and he gets out a couple of balls later, what do the other commentators say? “You’ve Jonahed him!”

But you know, there’s a bit more to this story than just a morality tale of someone who brings bad luck to those he travels with because he’s disobeyed God. Jonah is one of those Old Testament books that point forward so clearly to the gospel and its implications for us as Christians.

In fact, the main character in this story isn’t Jonah at all; nor is it the whale. The main character is God. Jonah is one of the supporting characters, along with the king of Nineveh and his people but the thrust of the story revolves around God and his purposes for the world.


1 Peter 1:13-16   1 John 1:8-2:2

One of the things that has come out clearly in the last few weeks of this pandemic is the desire of people to find a culprit, to allocate blame for what’s happened; or in some cases the opposite: they want to shift the blame from themselves, or from their government, to someone else. It’s part of our human nature isn’t it: to want to find someone to blame for what’s gone wrong? If we can blame someone else it helps us to avoid any responsibility on our own part. Well that’s part of what we’re going to be looking at this morning.

Today we come to the third of our studies on Christian disciplines, on finding patterns in living out the presence of God. Today we’re focussing on obedience.


Do you have a problem with obedience? Are you like me, a bit of a rebel. All someone needs to say is don’t do that, and immediately you want to do it? In some circumstances you might even get away with that. Though don’t try it if it involves refusing to wear a face mask in public. Obedience is a good thing when it comes to obeying the law, or doing what your boss tells you to, or where your safety is involved. And obedience to God’s rules is even more important. In fact obedience is one of the characteristics used by Paul to describe his converts. In Romans 6:17  he says “17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.”

Meaning In the Face of Suffering  audio

Ecclesiastes 3:16-4:3

2 Cor 4:5-12

(Part of a Sermon series based on Making Sense of God by Tim Keller,  Hodder & Stoughton, Sept 2016)

The book of Ecclesiastes presents us with the basic dilemma of living: What’s it all about? King Solomon explains that he’s applied his mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. He’s lived a life of pleasure, he’s built great works of architecture; he’s studied nature to the point where he’s become a great naturalist; he’s surrounded himself with every form of luxury: gold, jewels, slaves, entertainers, concubines; - and his conclusion? “It is an unhappy business that God has given to human beings to be busy with. 14I saw all the things that are done under the sun; all is meaningless, a chasing after wind.” (Eccl 1:13-14)

 In the passage we read today he says when he looked in the places of justice and righteousness all he found was wickedness. He says he can find no difference between humans and animals. Despite our great inventiveness and intelligence, in the end we all die the same way animals do. We’re all from dust and we all return to dust. - He sounds like he needs a course of anti-depressants, doesn’t he?

But he isn’t depressed. He’s just realistic. His conclusion, one of them at least, is that what we need to do is just accept our lot and enjoy what we can of life. “22There is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?” There’s something very contemporary about that isn’t there?

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